Mallory-Weiss Syndrome

Mallory-Weiss syndrome is a condition in which the inner lining of the esophagus tears at or near where it connects to the stomach.

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Symptoms

A person with this condition will vomit blood or pass black, sticky stools after periods of vomiting, retching or coughing. 

Immediate medical attention should be sought if these symptoms are present.

Causes and Risk Factors

Mallory-Weiss syndrome can be caused by severe coughing, retching or vomiting.

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Diagnosis

For a diagnosis, a doctor usually performs an upper GI endoscopy to see the site of bleeding.

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Treatments

In most cases, this condition stops bleeding and heals with no specific therapy. If the bleeding does not stop, the following can be used to treat it:

  • Injection therapy is done by inserting a needle through an endoscope to a point near the site of bleeding. Epinephrine, which makes blood vessels close off, is injected to stop the bleeding.
  • Coagulation therapy is done by passing a special probe that heats up through an endoscope to the site to stop the bleeding.
  • Arteriography is a special X-ray test that allows doctors to see arteries. A thin catheter is placed in the artery, where the bleeding is thought to be. A special dye is injected into it while X-rays are taken. After the bleeding artery is identified, the bleeding is stopped. This is done by injecting either vaopressin, a drug that makes blood vessels close off, or a substance that plugs the artery.

In rare cases surgery may be needed to treat these tears.