Portal hypertension is a high blood pressure in the portal blood system which is the portal vein and its branches, which drain from most of the intestines to the liver. If the vessels in the liver are blocked, blood cannot flow properly through the liver. As a result, high pressure in the portal system develops. This increased pressure in the portal vein over a time may lead to the development of large, swollen veins (varices) within the esophagus, stomach, rectum, or umbilical area (belly button). Varices can rupture and bleed, resulting in potentially life-threatening complications.
The blockage of blood vessels can happen at any of three places. One, Pre-hepatic i.e blockage of portal vein before it enters into the liver. Second, blockage inside the liver and Third, post-hepatic, blockage of blood vessels (hepatic veins) outside the liver. There are different causes of blockage at all three levels.