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Alternative Names Return to topMucosal lacerations - gastroesophageal junction
Definition Return to top
A Mallory-Weiss tear occurs in the mucous membrane of the esophagus, where it connects to the stomach. The tear may bleed.
Causes Return to top
Mallory-Weiss tears do not happen very often. They are usually caused by forceful or long-term vomiting or coughing. They may also be caused by epileptic convulsions.
The tear may be followed by vomiting bright red blood or by passing blood in the stool. Any condition that leads to violent and lengthy bouts of coughing or vomiting can cause these tears.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
The tear usually heals in about 10 days without treatment. Surgery is rarely required. Drugs that suppress stomach acid (proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers) may be given, but it is not clear if they are helpful.
If blood loss has been great, blood transfusions may be necessary. Excessive bleeding may need to be treated by using an endoscope (see EGD). In most cases, bleeding stops without treatment within a few hours.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Repeated bleeding is uncommon unless there is also a problem with blood clotting. The outcome is expected to be good.
Possible Complications Return to top
Hemorrhage (loss of blood)
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you begin vomiting blood or if you pass bloody stools.
Prevention Return to top
Treatments to relieve vomiting and coughing may reduce risk. Avoid excessive alcohol use.
References Return to topBjorkman DJ. Gastrointestinal hemorrhage and occult gastrointestinal bleeding. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 137. Update Date: 12/19/2008 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.