Zenker’s Diverticulum

Zenker's Diverticulum - a sac or pouch in the back of the throat which causes difficulty swallowing by collecting and retaining food and saliva.

Zenker's Diverticulum - a sac or pouch in the back of the throat which causes difficulty swallowing by collecting and retaining food and saliva.

Symptoms of a Zenker's Diverticulum:

  • Regurgitation of undigested food
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling of pills stuck in throat
  • Coughing while eating
  • Choking on foods
  • "Lump in the throat" sensation
  • Increased phlegm

Cause of Zenker's Diverticulum

The cricopharyngeus muscle is located at the bottom of the throat. This muscle is normally contracted, to prevent reflux, or the flow of food and acid backwards from the esophagus into the throat. When this muscle is overactive, the tissue above it stretches and dilates. This dilation turns into a pouch in the back of the throat known as a Zenker's Diverticulum. Food, pills and saliva get stuck in the Zenker's diverticulum while swallowing.

Diagnosis

Laryngoscopy is the first step to evaluate the throat and examine for abnormalities. An esophagogram is an x-ray study in which a radiologist takes images of a person swallowing a liquid. The Zenker's Diverticulum is seen on this study.

Treatment

The treatment for a Zenker's Diverticulum is cutting the cricopharyngeus muscle, known as a cricopharyngeal myotomy. When this muscle is cut the throat relaxes, making swallowing easier. There are two major ways to this. A minimally invasive approach is to cut the muscle through the mouth. This procedure takes approximately 30 minutes to perform. A carbon dioxide laser or a stapler is used to perform the surgery known as Zenker's Diverticulectomy.