This is surgery to remove 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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If you are planning to have esophagectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. It will block any pain and keep you asleep through the surgery. A tube will be placed in your windpipe to help you breathe.
Depending on the area that needs to be removed, the doctor will make an incision in the neck or abdomen using one of these techniques:
A replacement esophagus will be formed with part of the stomach or large intestine. The remainder of the esophagus will be attached to this new esophagus. In some cases, lymph nodes in the area will also be removed. One or more chest tubes will be placed to drain fluids. Lastly, the incisions will be closed with stitches or staples.
About six hours
You will feel pain as the anesthesia wears off. Ask your doctor about medication to help with the pain.
This procedure is done in a hospital setting. The usual length of stay is 1-2 weeks. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
You will not be able to eat or drink anything 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 there are no leaks, your diet will gradually progress from clear liquids to soft, solid meals. You will probably be able to return to a normal diet after about 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 breath deeply.
Other guidelines include:
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Esophagectomy. Boston Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.bmc.org/esophagealtherapies/treatments/esophagectomy.htm. Accessed August 14, 2013.
Esophagectomy. Massachusetts General Hospital website. Available at: http://www.massgeneral.org/digestive/services/procedure.aspx?id=2296. Accessed August 14, 2013.
Esophagectomy. Memorial Hermann website. Available at: http://www.memorialhermann.org/digestive/esophagectomy. Accessed August 14, 2013.
Esophagectomy. University of California San Francisco website. Available at: http://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions--procedures/esophagectomy.aspx. Accessed August 14, 2013.
Surgical removal of the esophagus (esophagectomy). UC Davis Health System website. Available at: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/surgery/specialties/cardio/esophagus.html. Accessed August 14, 2013.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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