Balloon tamponade

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A Sengstaken-Blakemore tube in original packaging

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.

Examples include:

  • 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.