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The esophagus is the narrow tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. If your doctor recommends esophageal surgery to treat your cancer, the doctor may remove all or part of your esophagus. The size and location of the tumor determines how much of the esophagus the doctor will take out. If the esophageal cancer is close to the stomach, the doctor may remove some of the upper stomach during the surgery.
Vascular surgery to reconstruct the esophagus
In some cases, the doctor will use a section of your small intestine to replace your esophagus and create a new connection between your mouth and stomach. This is called an intestinal auto-transplant. In this operation, the doctor may perform a type of minimally invasive surgery called vascular microsurgery to ensure a healthy blood supply to the transplanted intestine.
Advantages of autotransplantation in esophageal reconstruction
There are two main advantages to using auto-transplanted intestinal tissue to reconstruct the esophagus:
The transplanted small intestine is from your body and will not be recognized as foreign or attacked by your immune system.
The small intestine is more similar to the esophagus in size and gives better results than other tissues, such as colon or stomach.
What to expect after surgery
Immediately after esophageal cancer surgery, you will receive food through a feeding tube connected directly to your intestine. This will allow time for your body to heal. To monitor blood flow through the transplanted intestine after vascular microsurgery, a small piece of intestine on the outside of the chest may be used temporarily.
Once healing is complete:
The external intestine transplant used to monitor healing will be removed.
The Stanford Medicine Online Second Opinion program offers you easy access to our world-class doctors. It’s all done remotely and you don’t have to visit our hospital or one of our clinics for this service. You don’t even need to leave home!