Skip to Content



An esophagectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your esophagus. Your esophagus is the food pipe that leads into your stomach. An esophagectomy is usually done if you have been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. It can also be done if your esophagus does not work properly or has severe damage or trauma.



  • Medicines may be given to decrease pain. Ask how to take prescription pain medicine safely. You may also be given medicines to treat or prevent infection.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need more tests and possibly more treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them at your visits.

Avoid reflux:

  • Sit up when eating or drinking. Remain sitting up at least 30 minutes after your meal.
  • Drink liquids between meals. Do not drink liquids with meals unless directed by your dietitian.
  • Do not have foods or drinks that may increase heartburn. Avoid spicy foods. Avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee or colas. Avoid alcohol.
  • Do not eat large meals. When you eat a lot of food at one time, your stomach needs more acid to digest it. Eat 6 small meals each day instead of 3 large ones, and eat slowly. Do not eat meals 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Elevate the head of your bed. Place 6-inch blocks under the head of your bed frame. You may also use more than one pillow under your head and shoulders while you sleep.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information if you need help quitting.


  • Check and clean your incision sites and feeding tube area daily. Gently wash the areas with soap and water. Pat dry and apply a dressing as directed by healthcare providers.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for information about your feeding tube.
  • Do not drive until your healthcare provider says you are able.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • Your incisions become red, swollen, and warm to the touch.
  • You have increased pain.
  • You have leaking or bleeding from your incision site.
  • You have repeated vomiting or diarrhea.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have new difficulty swallowing.
  • You have difficulty breathing.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.