Mallory-Weiss Syndrome Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jan 10, 2023
  • Author: Carmen Cuffari, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination


Presenting symptoms of Mallory-Weiss syndrome include hematemesis, melena, light-headedness, dizziness, syncope, and abdominal pain.

  • Hematemesis: Hematemesis is the presenting symptom in all patients diagnosed with a Mallory-Weiss tear. [7] The diagnosis does not depend on the amount of hematemesis because it can vary from blood flecks or streaks of blood mixed with gastric contents or mucus to several ounces of bright red bloody emesis. In most children, hematemesis is preceded by one or more episodes of nonbloody emesis; however, hematemesis secondary to a Mallory-Weiss tear has been reported to occur during the first bout of vomiting.

  • Melena: Melena has been reported to occur in as many as 10% of patients who have been diagnosed with a Mallory-Weiss tear.

  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or syncope: Patients with severe vomiting can develop light-headedness or dizziness. These symptoms usually occur secondary to dehydration from the underlying cause of vomiting and are not secondary to blood loss from the Mallory-Weiss tear. Only in rare cases does a Mallory-Weiss tear lead to anemia requiring transfusions.

  • Abdominal pain, dyspepsia: As many as 40% of patients may experience epigastric pain or symptoms of heartburn. These symptoms are often related to the underlying cause of vomiting and not specifically to the Mallory-Weiss tear.

Physical examination

No specific physical findings can be linked to the diagnosis of a Mallory-Weiss tear. Physical findings are linked to the underlying disorder causing the vomiting and retching.