An esophagectomy is the removal of part or all of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach.
Esophagectomy may be used to treat:
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems such as:
Your problems are higher for:
You may have:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
The doctor will make a cut in the neck, chest, or belly. The techniques used are:
A replacement esophagus is formed with part of the stomach or large intestine. The remainder of the esophagus will be attached to this replacement. In some cases when treating cancer, lymph nodes in the area will be removed. One or more chest tubes are placed to drain fluids. Lastly, the cuts are closed with stitches or staples.
About 6 hours
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Medicines will help ease pain afterwards.
This is done in a hospital. The usual length of stay is 1-2 weeks. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if you have problems.
You will not be able to eat or drink during the first week after surgery. You will get nutrition through a feeding tube. Within 7-14 days, you will have a swallowing test to check for leaks. If cleared, your diet is resumed. It will progress from clear liquids to soft, solid meals. This can take up to a month. Your stomach may be smaller, so you will need to eat smaller portions.
You will also need to do deep breathing exercises. You may be given an incentive spirometer. This is a device to help you breathe deeply.
During your stay, the healthcare staff will take steps to lower your chances of infection such as:
To help you heal faster at home:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Esophageal disorders. Boston Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.bmc.org/gastroenterology/esophageal-disorders. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Esophagectomy. Massachusetts General Hospital website. Available at: https://www.massgeneral.org/digestive/services/procedure.aspx?id=2296. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Esophagectomy. Memorial Hermann website. Available at: http://www.memorialhermann.org/digestive/esophagectomy. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Esophagectomy. UCSF website. Available at: https://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions--procedures/esophagectomy.aspx. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Management of esophageal and esophagogastric junction cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T909632/Management-of-esophageal-and-esophagogastric-junction-cancer. Updated June 20, 2018. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Surgical removal of the esophagus (esophagectomy). UC Davis Health System website. Available at: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/surgery/specialties/cardio/esophagus.html. Accessed July 2, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD Last Updated: 7/2/2018