The doctor will make a cut in the neck, chest, or belly. The techniques used are:
An open procedure using 1 large cut. The diseased area is found and removed.
procedure that uses several small cuts. A tiny camera and small tools are inserted in tubes placed in the cuts. The esophagus can be seen on a screen. The diseased area will be found and removed.
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.
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:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks
Keeping your incisions covered
To help you heal faster at home:
Avoid heavy lifting for 6-8 weeks.
Do home exercises as advised.
Follow instructions to keep your wound from getting infected.