Esophagectomy

1 What is an Esophagectomy?

A surgical procedure to remove part of the tube between your mouth and stomach (esophagus) and then reconstruct it using part of another organ is called esophagectomy.

This procedure is a common treatment for advanced esophageal cancer and if precancerous cells are present, occasionally used for Barrett’s esophagus.

2 Reasons for Procedure

An esophagectomy is done for several reasons which include:

  • the removing of the cancer of the esophagus
  • to remove areas of the esophagus that have been damaged badly by ingestion of caustic fluids (caustic esophageal injury)
  • to repair ruptures of the esophagus
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3 Potential Risks

Some of the potential risks that may result from having an esophagectomy include:

  • bleeding
  • pneumonia
  • infection
  • leaking of the incision line or anastomosis
  • narrowing or stricture of the anastomosis

4 Preparing for your Procedure

To prepare for the surgery, your doctor will determine which type of the esophagectomy is best for you.

Your doctor will order tests such as MRI and CT scan and PET scan or endoscopic ultrasound, and fine-needle biopsies.

You will first undergo a preoperative medical testing that includes a heart evaluation to check for cardiovascular diseases.

In some hospitals, they will recommend tube feeding or home enteral nutrition after the surgery to one to two months so that you will have the nutrition that your body needs.

Your doctor may even recommend radiation or chemotherapy. You may also lose weight after the surgery because your stomach size will reduce meaning you will need to eat smaller quantities.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your esophagectomy.

Your doctor will give you general anesthesia. He will make an incision in the upper abdomen to reach the esophagus and will remove the diseased section of it.

Mostly, the stomach will be brought upward into the chest cavity and joined directly to the remaining portion of the esophagus but if this is not possible a section of bowel is removed and will be used to join the esophagus to the stomach.

Some esophagectomies are don with minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopic surgery which is done to reduce the pain by making several small incisions. Sometimes a piece of tissue from the intestinal tract will be used as a graft to join the esophagus to the stomach.

To remove any fluid that accumulates during or after the surgery, a drainage tube will be placed in the chest cavity. A feeding tube will also be placed in the intestinal tract so that liquid food can be directly fed into the intestine.

6 Procedure Results

Understanding the results of your esophagectomy will be made possible by your doctor.

In most cases, people who undergone this procedure have improved their quality of life but sometimes symptoms usually continue.

Follow some of these follow-ups cares to help you adjust to your lifestyle and prevent complications after surgery:

  • psychosocial care if you need it
  • lung therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation to prevent breathing problems
  • nutritional assessments to help with weight loss
  • pain management to treat problems with swallowing and heartburn
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