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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.
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.
A laparoscopic liver biopsy provides an accurate diagnosis with a minimally invasive procedure.Find out more about liver biopsy.