What is the long-term prognosis (outlook) for people who have bleeding esophageal varices?

Bleeding esophageal varices is life-threatening condition and can be fatal in up to 50% of patients. People who have had an episode of bleeding esophageal varices are at risk for bleeding again.

Treatment with variceal ligation is effective in controlling first-time bleeding episodes in about 90% of patients. However, about half of patients treated with variceal ligation will have another episode of bleeding within 1 to 2 years. Medication and lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of recurrence (return of bleeding).

Liver transplant many be an option for patients who have severe cirrhosis and/or repeated episodes of bleeding varices. Liver transplant is only performed at selected centers around the country that meet very strict criteria.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/10/2019.


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  • Poza Cordon J, Froilan Torres C, Burgos García A, et al. Endoscopic management of esophageal varices. World Journal of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 2012 Jul 16;4(7):312-22.
  • Merck Manual Consumer Version. Gastrointestinal Bleeding. Accessed 4/17/2019.

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