Portal hypertension is an increase in the blood pressure within a system of veins called the portal venous system. Veins, coming from the stomach, intestine, spleen, and pancreas, merge into the portal vein, branch into smaller vessels, and travel through the liver. When there is a blockage of the vessels in the liver, it is difficult for blood to flow, thus causing high pressure in the portal system. When the pressure is too high, the blood flow alternates routes to get around the blockage in the liver. The most common cause of portal hypertension is cirrhosis.
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