Search the Health Library
Get the facts on diseases, conditions, tests and procedures.
I Want To...
I Want To...
Find Research Faculty
Enter the last name, specialty or keyword for your search below.
School of Medicine
Portal hypertension is elevated pressure in your portal venous system. The portal vein is a major vein that leads to the liver. The most common cause of portal hypertension is cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.
Portal Hypertension: What You Need to Know
- If you have liver disease, you have an increased risk of portal hypertension (high pressure in your portal veins). Be aware of unusual symptoms.
- Your doctor may perform an endoscopy to diagnose portal hypertension.
- The main complication of portal hypertension is bleeding varices (varicose veins).
- Treatment for portal hypertension includes medication, endoscopic treatment and in severe cases, liver transplantation.
Normally, the blood flows smoothly through the channels, but diseases such as cirrhosis cause the channels to become irregular or blocked. This makes it difficult for the blood to flow, causing increased pressure.
If the pressure becomes too great, and the normal pathways are blocked, then the blood backs up and travels throughout the body, causing varices (varicose veins) and hemorrhoids.
Read a more in-depth article about portal hypertension, written by Johns Hopkins gastroenterologists, which details the anatomical description of the causes of portal hypertension.
Read our FAQs about portal hypertension.
Why choose Johns Hopkins Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology for portal hypertension?
The physicians who treat portal hypertension are experts in its symptoms and complications.Meet our physicians:
A laparoscopic liver biopsy provides an accurate diagnosis with a minimally invasive procedure.Find out more about liver biopsy.