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Oral varices - Oral Mucosal Lesion
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Oral varices - Oral Mucosal Lesion

Contributors: Carl Allen DDS, MSD, Sook-Bin Woo MS, DMD, MMSc
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Oral varices are dilated veins that presumably develop due to loss of connective tissue tone of the vascular wall. They generally begin developing after 40 years of age and are found commonly in older adults. They are not associated with hypertension or cardiopulmonary diseases.

Most commonly found on the ventral tongue in two thirds of adults over 60 years of age and present as multiple, soft, well-circumscribed bluish-purple papules.

A solitary varix is also fairly common, affecting the lips and buccal mucosa, and presenting as a nontender, bluish-purple papule or nodule. Thrombus formation is often seen in these lesions due to the sluggish vascular flow, and the resultant mild enlargement and firmness may bring the lesion to the patient's attention.


I86.8 – Varicose veins of other specified sites

702792005 – Oral varices

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Oral mucocele – This will have a history of sudden onset, perhaps with subsequent "swelling and popping." It may have bluish to clear color but generally occurs in a much younger age group.
  • Hematoma – This is a hemorrhage due to blunt trauma, most often affecting the labial or buccal mucosa. It appears as a flat or elevated zone that varies from red or purple to blue or bluish-black. It is less well-defined, and because it is extravasated blood, it will not blanch when pressure is applied with a glass slide (diascopy).
  • Oral hemangioma
  • Lobular capillary hemangioma (pyogenic granuloma)
  • Peripheral giant cell granuloma
  • Cutaneous mucoepidermoid carcinoma – This will be firmer to palpation and less well circumscribed.
  • AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcoma – This presents on palatal mucosa or attached gingiva most often and is generally seen in a somewhat younger age range.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis

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Last Updated:10/30/2017
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Oral varices - Oral Mucosal Lesion
A medical illustration showing key findings of Oral varices : Buccal mucosa, Lips, Oral papule, Oral vascular mass, Purple color, Ventral tongue
Clinical image of Oral varices - imageId=2500117. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A purple-blue papule on the lower mucosal lip.'
A purple-blue papule on the lower mucosal lip.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.