[Ectopic varices, a rare cause of digestive hemorrhage].Schweiz Med Wochenschr Suppl. 1996; 79:70S-2S.SM
From January 1986 to September 1995, 4 patients were hospitalized in our ward for gastrointestinal bleeding from ectopic varices. The patients were all female, aged 30 to 65 years. The etiology of portal hypertension in these patients was alcoholic cirrhosis, cirrhosis in Wilson's disease and previous alveolar echinococcosis treated by right hepatectomy, complicated by post-operative portal thrombosis. Clinical presentation in all 4 cases was lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Diagnosis was by emergency arteriography in 3 cases; no source was found in one case with recurrent hemorrhage. The 4 patients had a history of abdominal surgery. The location of the ectopic varices was small bowel and cecum. 3 patients were treated surgically: right colectomy, partial small bowel resection and porto-caval shunt with complete lysis of adhesions. One patient was treated conservatively with emergency placement of a TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt), with simultaneous embolization of cecal varices. Upon laparotomy, all 3 surgical cases presented ectopic varices in post-operative adhesions. In conclusion, in a patient with portal hypertension presenting with lower gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhage from ectopic varices should be kept in mind and investigated by arteriography. A history of abdominal surgery seems to be a predisposing factor in development of ectopic varices by adhesion formation.