[Skip to Navigation]
Sign In
December 1978

'Downhill' Esophageal Varices: A Rare Cause of Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Johnson and Kinnear) and Surgery (Drs Brown and Mulder), Montreal General Hospital, McGill University, Montreal.

Arch Surg. 1978;113(12):1463-1464. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1978.01370240085016

• The submucosal venous network of the esophagus is part of the collateral system that develops following superior vena caval obstruction from any cause. The direction of flow in these thin-walled, valveless veins is "downhill," towards the azygous vein or to the inferior vena cava. Bleeding from upper esophageal varices is extremely rare. This case report describes a patient with massive bleeding from upper esophageal varices secondary to superior vena caval obstruction by a malignant thyroid tumor. Total thyroidectomy relieved the obstruction, with cessation of hemorrhage and subsequent disappearance of the varices.

(Arch Surg 113:1463-1464, 1978)

Add or change institution