Volume 1, Issue 4 | July 2014
Image | Endoscopy

White Ball Sign

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Callum Dargavel, MD, and Samir C. Grover, MD

Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

ACG Case Rep J 2014;1(4):174. http://dx.doi.org/10.14309/crj.2014.42. Published: July 8, 2014.

Case Report

An 81-year-old man with alcoholic cirrhosis presented with hematemesis, melena, and hypotension. Examination revealed ascites and chronic liver disease stigmata. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) revealed multiple large columns of esophageal varices. No other bleeding sources were seen. Using a Cook 4, 6, 10 Shooter® (Cook Medical, Bloomington, IN) multi-band ligator, the varix was ligated at the site of a platelet plug, which suggested recent hemorrhage (Figure 1). After blood extruded at the site of this defect, the ligated varix demonstrated the white ball sign (Figure 2).

Dargavel-Figure-1 Dargavel-Figure-2

Figure 1. Appearance of varix after ligation with a Cook 4, 6, 10 Shooter® multi-band ligator suggesting recent hemorrhage.

Figure 2. The ligated varix demonstrated the white ball sign
after blood extruded at the site of this defect.

First described by Matsutani and colleagues, the white ball sign is observed after effective variceal ligation at the bleeding site.1–3 It is hypothesized that the outflow of blood from the rupture point on the varix is the likely cause of this phenomenon.1–3 Ligation at non-bleeding sites results in a purple ball appearance, representing congestion of blood in the variceal vessels captured by the band.3 Other authors have noted that the white ball sign also occurs with ligation of the bleeding point on esophogogastric varices.3 In the setting of variceal bleeding where the bleeding point is obscure, the white ball sign is particularly useful in confirming effective ligation.1


Author contributions: C. Dargavel wrote the manuscript and, along with SC Grover, revised the manuscript for intellectually important content. SC Grover obtained the endoscopic images, approved the final manuscript, and is the article guarantor.

Financial disclosure: None to report.

Informed consent was obtained for this case report.

Correspondence: Samir C. Grover, Division of Gastroenterology, St. Michael’s Hospital, 16-036 Cardinal Carter Wing, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1W8, Canada (samir.grover@gmail.com).

Received: December 2, 2013; Accepted: March 18, 2014


  1. Matsutani S, Maruyama H, Sato G et al. White ball appearance in endoscopic ligation of bleeding esophageal varices. Gastrointest Endosc. 1998;47(3):254–6. PubMed | Article
  2. Matsushita M, Hajiro K, Takakuwa H, Nishio A. ‘Another’ white ball appearance on the ligated varix ruptured by suction during endoscopic variceal ligation. Gastrointest Endosc. 1999;49(6):819. PubMed | Article
  3. Gonzalez-Gonzalez JA, Mendoza-Fuerte E, Bosques-Padilla F et al. White ball sign after ligation of the esophageal varix bleeding point. Gastrointest Endosc. 2000;51(1):119. PubMed

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