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Caput medusae sign - portal hypertension

Last revised by Dr Yahya Baba on 26 Jul 2021

The caput medusae sign is seen in patients with severe portal hypertension. It describes the appearance of distended and engorged paraumbilical veins, which are seen radiating from the umbilicus across the abdomen to join the systemic veins. 

History and etymology

The appearance is reminiscent of Medusa, a gorgon of Greek mythology, who was encountered and defeated by Perseus.

See also

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: clinical photograph
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  • Figure 2: Medusa
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  • Case 1
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 6
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