Portal hypertension and varices in patients with liver cirrhosis
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Portal hypertension and varices in patients with liver cirrhosis

Danielle Fullwood Liver lecturer practitioner, Institute of Liver Studies, King’s College Hospital, London

Portal hypertension is a complication seen in patients with liver cirrhosis and is characterised by high pressure in the portal vein. As portal hypertension worsens, varices can form, leading to increased morbidity and mortality if these rupture. Bleeding can be prevented with pharmacological agents and endoscopic therapy; however, some patients will experience variceal haemorrhage. Medical and nursing management of acute variceal haemorrhage is key to a successful outcome, and after initial resuscitation, endoscopic therapy should be undertaken. Long-term management to prevent re-bleeding may involve surgery to implant shunts, which aim to reduce portal venous pressure. However, patients often require referral to specialist centres for transplant assessment.

Correspondence danielle.fullwood@nhs.net

Nursing Standard. 26, 48,52-57. doi: 10.7748/ns2012.08.26.48.52.c9230

Published in print: 01 August 2012

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review