UMEM Educational Pearls

Balloon Tamponade for Variceal Bleeding

  • Despite advances in pharmacology and endoscopy, placement of a balloon tamponade device is occasionally required to stabilize a patient with acute variceal bleeding.
  • Currently, there are 3 devices available: the Linton-Nachlas (gastric balloon only), the Blakemore (gastric and esophageal balloons), and the Minnesota (gastric and esophageal balloons) tubes.
  • The tube should initially be passed at least to the 50-cm mark and preferably to the maximum depth allowed by the length of the tube.
  • Once the gastric balloon is inflated and correct position confirmed, traction must be applied to keep the gastric balloon engaged in the cardia and fundus of the stomach.
  • An overhead pulley system is the preferred method to deliver traction.  If you don't have weights for the pulley system, a 1-liter bag of crystalloid provides the desired 1.0 kg of traction.