About the Upper GI Tract
The upper GI tract consists of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine known as the duodenum.
The esophagus is a tube-like organ that connects the throat to the stomach. Physicians often seek to visualize the esophagus in patients with suspected esophageal varices, which are most often complications of cirrhosis of the liver.
Esophageal varices are enlarged veins in the esophagus that form when blood flow to the liver is slowed. Blood flow to the liver is often slowed due to scar tissue caused by liver disease. As the scar tissue in the liver causes the blood flow to slow, pressure increases within a major vein that carries blood to the liver causing increased pressure to form. This pressure forces blood into nearby smaller veins, such as those in your esophagus. These fragile, thin-walled veins begin to balloon with the added blood and can sometimes rupture and bleed.