Esophageal varices are abnormal, enlarged veins in the lower part of the esophagus — the tube that connects the throat and stomach. Esophageal varices occur most often in people with serious liver diseases.
Esophageal varices develop when normal blood flow to your liver is slowed. The blood then backs up into nearby smaller blood vessels, such as those in your esophagus, causing the vessels to swell. Sometimes, esophageal varices can rupture, causing life-threatening bleeding.
A number of drugs and medical procedures are available to stop bleeding from esophageal varices. These same treatments can help prevent bleeding in people diagnosed with esophageal varices.