Balloon tamponade refers to the use of mercury weighted balloons instilled into typically the esophagus or stomach, and inflated to stop refractory bleeding from vascular structures -- including esophageal varices and gastric varices -- in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Many balloons dedicated for bleeding from different structures exist, with volume capacities and aspiration ports tailored for the specific application.
- Sengstaken-Blakemore tube, with esophageal balloon, and gastric and esophageal aspirates
- Linton tube, with large gastric balloon, and gastric and esophageal aspirates
- Minnesota four-lumen balloon with esophageal and gastric balloons, and esophageal and gastric aspirates.
Balloon tamponade is generally considered a bridge to more definitive treatment modalities, and is usually administrered in the intensive care unit setting, due to the illness of patients, and the complications of the procedure.