A tear that occurs in the mucus membrane of your esophagus because of forceful vomiting, straining, or retching, is known as a Mallory-Weiss tear. When someone experiences a Mallory-Weiss tear, they might vomit blood, have sticky stools, and at times require immediate medical attention. However, most of the time Mallory-Weiss’s tears can heal naturally on their own. Know the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of Mallory-Weis Tear.
What is Mallory-Weiss Tear?
Mallory-Weiss Tear is also known as Mallory-Weiss Syndrome, which is characterized by a longitudinal mucosal tear or a tear of the mucous membrane in the distal esophagus and proximal stomach, which occurs basically due to forceful vomiting, or retching.(1)
Mallory-Weiss tear is named after two physicians who in 1929, described tears in the lower esophagus in people experiencing forceful vomiting or retching after consuming excessive alcohol. The names of those two physicians are Kenneth Mallor and Soma Weiss.
Usually, a Mallory-Weiss looks like a crack that runs up and down the esophagus. These tears range between a length of 0.75 to 1.5 inches on average. Some of these tears might extend into the upper stomach of the affected person.
Mallory-Weiss tears account for about 1%to 15% of the causes of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults and below 5% of cases in children in the U.S. Adults between the age group of 40 to 60 years report the highest incidence of Mallory-Weiss tears.(2) Moreover, males are two to four times more likely to develop this condition than women, and there are no clear reasons for this.
Symptoms Of Mallory-Weiss Tear
Vomiting Blood- The Primary Symptom
The primary symptom of Mallory-Weiss Tear is blood in vomit, which is usually dark and might look like coffee grounds. It can occasionally be red. Sometimes blood would also appear in the stool that would be dark and at times would be red.
In certain cases, blood caused due to a Mallory-Weiss tear could be life-threatening. So you should seek immediate emergency care when you experience these symptoms
Other Symptoms of Mallory-Weiss Tear
Mallory-Weiss tear does not produce symptoms in all cases, especially in mild cases. However, symptoms develop in most cases and these symptoms could not only be blood in vomit or stool. Some other symptoms are abdominal pain, involuntary retching, and black stools
Causes For Mallory-Weiss Tear
With increased pressure in the abdomen, Mallory-Weiss tears are caused. It is believed by scientists that the pressure in the abdomen forces the contents of your stomach into the esophagus, which causes tears.
Causes of increased pressure in the abdomen are severe vomiting, heavy lifting or straining, prolonged coughing, gastritis, hiatal hernia, bulimia (an eating disorder), cyclic vomiting syndrome, convulsions, and trauma to the chest or abdomen. Severe vomiting that can cause Mallory-Weiss tear might be due to stomach illness. However, it can frequently occur due to chronic use of alcohol.
Apart from this, receiving CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation can also cause a tear of the esophagus.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, it has been mentioned that people in the age group of 40 to 60 years are more likely to develop Mallory-Weiss Tear.(3) However, children and young adults can also experience this condition.
Diagnosis For Mallory-Weiss Tear
If you are experiencing symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding, your doctor would perform a physical examination to check the vital signs, know about your medical history, and draw blood for laboratory testing like CBC, i.e. complete blood count, or kidney function test.
Upper endoscopy would be required to diagnose Mallory-Weiss’s tears. During this endoscopy, your doctor guides a thin, long, flexible probe( or endoscope) down your throat. The probe would have a camera on its end. Using this your doctor would look for tears in your upper stomach and esophagus.
Treatments For Mallory-Weiss Tear
In about 80% to 90% cases, the bleeding resulting from the Mallory-Weiss tear would stop on its own.(3) However, if it does not heal on its own, you would have to undergo the following treatments.
Medications that can reduce stomach acid production, such as famotidine (Pepcid) would be required to stop gastritis and vomiting, which could lead to a Mallory-Weiss tear.
If bleeding does not stop on its own, you would have to undergo the endoscopic therapy. Some endoscopic options would include the following.
Sclerotherapy or Injection Therapy: This therapy delivers medication to the tear and helps in closing off the blood vessel and restricting the bleeding.
Coagulation Therapy: This therapy delivers heat which can seal off the torn blood vessel and stop the bleeding.
Surgical Treatment Options for Treating Mallory-Weiss Tear
Sometimes surgical treatment might be essential for treating Mallory-Weiss tear. To stop the bleeding, doctors might have to go with laproscopic surgery that would sew the tear.
Mallory-Weiss tears can heal on their own in most cases. However, some cases might require immediate medical attention. So, if you are experiencing any symptoms of Mallory-Weiss tear then visit your doctor and get yourself diagnosed for the condition and begin with the treatment. Moreover, try to adopt a healthier lifestyle and prevent yourself from vomiting or gastritis, which could instead lead to a Mallory-Weiss tear.