Mallory-Weiss Syndrome

Mallory-Weiss syndrome is a situation where a bleeding mucosal crack occurs in the lining of lower esophagus. This situation may have seemingly dramatic symptoms, but it is usually not dangerous.


The injury of the esophageal mucosa usually occurs during strong vomiting, but it can also happen because of strenuous cough. The situation may occur in virtually anyone, but the incidence is reported higher in alcoholics and individuals with eating disorders.


The symptoms depend on the severity of bleeding. Small bleeding not manifest at all, but usually it causes blood vomiting or presence of blood in stool (typically black tarry stool known as melena).


The diagnosis of the syndrome is determined by endoscopic examination (upper GI endoscopy). The endoscopic device allows the doctor to see the mucosal crack and rule out other causes of bleeding from the upper GI tract (peptic ulcer, esophageal varices, etc.).


The condition can be usually treated conservatively. The patient is administered drugs decreasing the stomach acidity (typically proton pump inhibitors) and the patient should avoid food for a short period of time. Larger cases of bleeding can be treated endoscopically.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources