Trans-hiatal esophagectomy; Trans-thoracic esophagectomy; En bloc esophagectomy; Removal of the esophagus - open; Ivor-Lewis esophagectomy, Blunt esophagectomy; Esophageal cancer - esophagectomy - open; Cancer of the esophagus - esophagectomy - open
Open esophagectomy is surgery to remove part or all of the esophagus. This is the tube that moves food from your throat to your stomach. After it is removed, the esophagus is rebuilt from part of your stomach or part of your large intestine.
Most of the time, esophagectomy is done to treat cancer of the esophagus or a severely damaged stomach.
During open esophagectomy, one or more large surgical cuts (incisions) are made in your belly, chest, or neck. (Another way to remove the esophagus is laparoscopically. Surgery is done through several small incisions, using a viewing scope.)
This article discusses three types of open surgery. With any surgery, you will receive medicine (anesthesia) that will keep you asleep and pain-free.
Transthoracic esophagectomy: This surgery is done in a similar way as the transhiatal procedure. But the upper cut is made in your right chest, not in the neck.
En bloc esophagectomy:
Most of these operations take 3 to 6 hours.
This is major surgery and has many risks. Some of them are serious. Be sure to discuss these risks with your surgeon.
Risks of this surgery, or for problems after surgery, may be greater than normal if you:
Risks for anesthesia and surgery in general are:
Risks for this surgery are:
You will have many doctor visits and medical tests before surgery, including:
If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking several weeks before surgery. Your health care provider can help.
Tell your provider:
During the week before surgery:
On the day of surgery:
Most people stay in the hospital for 7 to 14 days after this surgery. You may spend 1 to 3 days in the intensive care unit (ICU) right after surgery.
During your hospital stay, you will:
Many people recover well from this surgery and can have a normal diet. After they recover they will likely have to eat smaller portions and eat more often.
If you had the surgery for cancer, talk with your doctor about the next steps to treat the cancer.
Maish M. Esophagus. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 43.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ esophageal cancer treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified February 18, 2015. Available at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/esophageal/HealthProfessional. June 3, 2015.
Last reviewed on: 3/8/2015
Reviewed by: Dale Mueller, MD, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, HeartCare Midwest; Chairman Department of Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, OSF St. Francis Medical Center; and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Illinois, Peoria, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.