Published online Nov 16, 2016. doi: 10.4253/wjge.v8.i19.690
Peer-review started: May 5, 2015
First decision: October 26, 2015
Revised: October 10, 2016
Accepted: October 22, 2016
Article in press: October 24, 2016
Published online: November 16, 2016
Advanced therapeutic endoscopy, in particular endoscopic mucosal resection, endoscopic submucosal dissection, per-oral endoscopic myotomy, submucosal endoscopic tumor resection opened a new era where direct esophageal visualization is possible. Combining these information with advanced diagnostic endoscopy, the esophagus is organized, from the luminal side to outside, into five layers (epithelium, lamina propria with lamina muscularis mucosa, submucosa, muscle layer, adventitia). A specific vascular system belonging to each layer is thus visible: Mucosa with the intra papillary capillary loop in the epithelium and the sub-epithelial capillary network in the lamina propria and, at the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) level with the palisade vessels; submucosa with the drainage vessels and the spindle veins at LES level; muscle layer with the perforating vessels; peri-esophageal veins in adventitia. These structures are particularly important to define endoscopic landmark for the gastro-esophageal junction, helpful in performing submucosal therapeutic endoscopy.
Core tip: In the last years advanced endoscopic technology and techniques allowed the possibility to in vivo evaluate the esophageal vasculature. We aimed to review the endoscopic endoluminal and transluminal appearance of the esophageal vascular structures. This paper will allow the reader to deeply understand mucosal, submucosal and muscular layer vessels by a direct endoscopic visualization. The authors’ knowledge of the characteristic changes in health and disease, as well as descriptions of anatomical landmarks, will serve to inform the practice of endoscopic surgery in the future.