Banded Blood Vessel  
band ligation

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Esophageal varices are abnormal blood vessels (veins) that develop in the esophagus. They have abnormally thin walls, and the blood pressure within them is very high. This combination makes esophageal varices very dangerous, because they can burst and cause life-threatening bleeding.

Endoscopic band ligation is the use of elastic bands to treat the varices. It is done as part of an upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy .


Reasons for Procedure  

This procedure is done to prevent or treat bleeding from esophageal varices (enlarged veins). If left untreated, varices could rupture and bleed severely.


Possible Complications  

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Painful swallowing
  • Bleeding
  • Esophageal damage
  • Infection

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Alcoholism
  • Bleeding disorder
  • Active bleeding
  • Advanced age
  • Heart or lung problems
  • Use of certain medicines
  • Smoking

What to Expect  

Prior to Procedure  

  • Your doctor will likely do a physical exam and order blood tests.
  • Do not eat for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure.
  • If you have diabetes , discuss your medications with your doctor.
  • Arrange for transportation after the procedure. You should not drive for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.


  • Local—You may be given an anesthetic solution to gargle, or your throat may be sprayed with a numbing anesthetic.
  • You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
  • Conscious sedation—You may be given medications through an IV. It will help you relax. Other medications will be given to treat any pain you feel during the procedure.
  • General anesthesia—If you are having the procedure du