Understanding Portal Hypertension - British Liver Trust

British Liver Trust

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Understanding Portal Hypertension

Splodge60 profile image

Please can someone explain to me (in a really simple way), what Portal Hypertension is, what are the symptoms and why would I not be informed I have it (by Liver Consultant) when my Diabetic Consultant knows and, once again, nobody has considered it prudent to inform me. Dr Google does not explain this well at all???

19 Replies

BLT website has a page about it at:- britishlivertrust.org.uk/in... If that isn't plain enough i'll post a simpler explanation after my dinner.


Splodge60 profile image
Splodge60 in reply to AyrshireK

I can’t download it Katie. Sorry.

AyrshireK profile image
AyrshireK in reply to Splodge60

It's not a download, that's just a link to the British Liver Trust website. If you want to search for it yourself go to


From there go down the drop down menu - Information and Support

Under Liver Conditions you've got the A-Z of liver issues and Portal Hypertension page is under P.


Your liver has a vein called the portal vein that carries blood into the liver. This portal vein then carries on into the liver where it has lots of smaller branches of veins. These smaller branches carry the blood. Over time as parts of the liver become damaged (cirrhotic), these little branches cannot carry the blood into the dead/dying part of the liver. However, the blood coming into the liver is still the same amount.

It might help to think of it like this, The portal vein is a motorway carrying 50 cars a minute. Once these cars go into the liver, they divide along the "A" roads. Now each "A" road has, let's say, 10 cars each. Then roadworks appear and one "A" road closes. (Same as the liver becoming cirrhotic). These 10 cars have to go somewhere from the motorway, but the "A" roads are already carrying maximum number of cars. So we get a "tailback".

In the liver this "tailback" causes a builup of blood pressure (portal hypertension). Over time, more and more cars join the "tailback". We've all seen it and the queue gets longer.

In the body, the cars are the blood. The blood gets backed up.

Some people get bored with waiting in the car and try some alternative roads off the motorway. In the body, the blood goes into different veins. These other veins are in the throat (oesophagus) and the stomach.

Of course, these little roads weren't meant to carry this many cars and eventually they become damaged (if the tailbacks keep happening). In the body, the veins in the throat and stomach weren't meant to carry this much blood, they swell up and then eventually burst (variceal bleed).

When you have portal hypertension, then they check regularly to see how swollen these veins in the throat are. If they get too large (stage 3 on endoscopy), they tie them off (banding). It's like putting up a sign on the side roads "No entry".

Symptoms-look for blood in stools. Usually described as black and tarry. What they mean is really sticky (difficult to wipe clean) and black- self-explanatory. Not just slightly darker, obviously blackened (due to blood in the stool). Ther are other symptoms to look out for, but it is best to ask your Consultant, as I know you have a lot of other conditons that might impact on how you feel.

Sorry such a long post, but it needs a lot of explanation. Hope that helped.

Trust10 profile image
Trust10Administrator in reply to CarpeDiem11

Excellent explanation! Trust10 😃

CarpeDiem11 profile image
CarpeDiem11 in reply to Trust10

Aw thanks!! :)

purple64 profile image
purple64 in reply to CarpeDiem11

That was such a good explanation thank you 😊

CarpeDiem11 profile image
CarpeDiem11 in reply to purple64

Glad it helped and you're welcome :)

Thank you. That makes it very much better to understand. 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸

Good to know- especially since you were the one who asked the question :) I do hope that things are getting better for you, since you seem to have had a lot of difficult times. Sending you best wishes :)

I’ve done an update but I can’t find it anywhere xxxxx

deanw41 profile image
deanw41 in reply to CarpeDiem11

I’m travelling by air...

CarpeDiem11 profile image
CarpeDiem11 in reply to deanw41

There's always one......... 🤣🤣You'll have to make up your own analogies.

deanw41 profile image
deanw41 in reply to CarpeDiem11

I know, I had too😅🤦‍♂️

what a great way of explaining portal hypertension....we'll done. chris

Cheers! It's what works for me I guess, so hopefully works for others :)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ go to the top of the class !

That made me laugh :)

The liver has a pretty diffuse blood supply and little or no nerve supply When it can’t filter toxins Thea kind of back up and if it affects the kidneys ban build up to cause varices in the GI tract and can’t

The varices then burst and if you are asleep the chances of survival are low

Mine happened when sitting on the loo

Luckily my wife was rained in CPR and my brother is GP

We are all now deaing with PTSD related to that night but seeing the football yesterday and what happened to Eriksen when push comes to shove emergency training kicks in

To have your doctor brother help to squeeze for units of blood into your body

Words can’t describe it

My PTSD is related to the time spent in an induced coma

A man of my intellect who can account for los days is diificult to understand

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