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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In this Guide

If you've been scheduled for an esophagectomy, you probably have some questions. Our guide offers the answers you're looking for, and helps you prepare for your operation.​

About the Operation

Why do I need this surgery?​

Your esophagus is a muscle shaped like a tube. It connects your throat to your stomach. Food travels down this tube and goes into your stomach.

The lining of the esophagus may get damaged by:

  • Reflux (also known as heartburn).
    • Reflux is stomach acid backing up into your esophagus. If this happens over many years, the damage can be permanent and may lead to cancer.
  • ​Swallowing a poisonous liquid.
  • Cancer.

If your esophagus is badly damaged or cancer develops, it must be removed. This is called an esophagectomy.

If the damage or cancer includes your stomach, both your esophagus and stomach are removed. This is called an esophagogastrectomy.​


What type of surgery am I having?

Your surgeon will do your esophagectomy in 1 of 2 ways:

Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE)

For MIE, 5 small incisions (cuts) are made on your abdomen and 4 small incisions are made to the side of your chest. Your surgeon uses special tools and the help of video cameras to remove your esophagus.

Open esophagectomy

Your surgeon removes your esophagus by making larger incisions to your chest and abdomen. They will talk to you about which way is best for you.

What tests will I need before surgery?

Before your surgery, we do a complete check of your health. This may include many tests. These tests help your surgeon plan your operation. They also help find other health problems. The risks of surgery can be decreased by managing these health problems before your surgery.

These tests may include one or more of the following:

We will let you know the tests you need and give you more information about them.​


How long will I stay in the hospital?

Depending on your surgery, you will stay in the hospital from 7 to 10 days. When you can go home will depend on how you are recovering. Your health care team may tell you during their morning rounds (check-ins) that you can go home that day. Before coming to the hospital, plan to have someone pick you up when you are ready to go home after surgery.​

Helpful Resources

Download a printable version of the full guide:
Esophagectomy ​Surgery Guide​​​​​