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Esophagectomy

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Esophagus is a muscular tube that connects you throat or pharynx to your stomach. Esophagectomy is a surgery to remove the esophagus. Your doctor might consider the option like minimal invasive technique or open surgery after evaluating your medical condition.

 

Who needs esophagectomy?

Esophagectomy is the treatment for the following health conditions: 

  • Esophageal cancer
  • End-stage non-cancerous diseases of the esophagus like GERD disease, Barret’s esophagus, achalasia

 

How is esophagectomy performed?

Open surgery

Transthoracic esophagectomy:  It’s a common treatment approach for esophageal cancer and is performed through the chest. Depending on the extent of spread of cancer, the esophagus along with upper portion of the stomach is removed and then the digestive tract is reconstructed.

En bloc esophagectomy: The surgery is done through the neck, chest and the abdomen to remove the esophagus, the cancerous lymph nodes and a part of the stomach, followed by reconstruction surgery.

Transhiatal esophagectomy: Incision is made in your abdomen and your neck to reach the esophagus and separate your stomach and the esophagus from the surrounding structures. If necessary, the lymph nodes might be removed.

Minimally invasive technique

Laparoscopy is the most common approach to perform this surgery wherein small incisions are made on your upper stomach, lower neck and chest. The portion of the esophagus will be removed with the help of the laparoscope along with your lymph nodes (if required), followed by reconstruction of the esophagus. Robotic surgery is another minimally invasive technique for performing esophagectomy.

 

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How to prepare for esophagectomy?

You have to undergo several physiological diagnostic tests before your doctor schedules the surgery. Nutritional counselling would be provided, you have to stop smoking and medicines that interfere with blood clotting might be stopped a few weeks before the surgery.

It’s important to let your doctor know about a pre-existing health condition and if you are allergic to any drug or anaesthesia.

You cannot eat or drink anything on the day of your operation and you might be given an enema to empty your bowels.

 

What happens during the surgery?

Esophagectomy is performed under general anesthesia. So you won’t be sensing any pain or discomfort. What happens during the procedure will depend on the type of surgery you are undergoing. The surgery is complicated and it takes 5-10 hours for completion.

 

What to expect after the surgery

You have to stay in the hospital for 10 days or more depending on your body’s response after the operation. A small feeding tube will be connected to supply nutrition till your esophagus heals.

During your hospital stay your doctor will monitor your health, check your recovery status, look for possibility of post operative complications, conduct some more tests and then decide your release date.

Make sure you note down the after-care instructions regarding diet, lifestyle, activities, etc. and follow them properly at home for a speedy recovery.

 

Are there any risks associated with esophagectomy?

Risks like post operative bleeding and pain, blood clotting, infection, slow recovery, etc. usually exist in people above age 60, whose health has already degraded due to previous cancer treatments, people who have lung problems, are heavy smokers, etc.

Your doctor will however evaluate your health before performing esophagectomy to minimize risks. Otherwise, it’s quite a successful and effective treatment procedure.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: June 23, 2014