Thursday, April 2, 2015

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CAPUT MEDUSAE


Fig : Caput medusae due to cirrhosis of liver

DESCRIPTION:
Dilated veins of the abdominal wall, named after the snakes that made up the hair of the goddess Medusa in Greek mythology.

CONDITION/S ASSOCIATED WITH:
Any condition causing portal hypertension, e.g.:
• Cirrhosis of the liver
• Severe heart failure
• Inferior vena cava obstruction

MECHANISM:
Portal hypertension causes backflow from the portal vein to the para-umbilical veins. The increased pressure and blood volume distend the veins.

SIGN VALUE:
Caput medusae is a sign of advanced liver disease and portal hypertension and is rare. 

Normally, only a few prominent veins may be present. To distinguish between inferior vena cava obstruction and portal hypertension with caput medusa, occlusion of the vein is required.

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