A Zenker’s diverticulum is a pouch that develops in the back of the throat. This pouch grows as muscles below it overtighten, eventually making swallowing difficult.
- Regurgitation, often hours after a meal
- Swallowing difficulty
- Coughing and choking while eating
- Feeling of lump in the throat
- Feeling too much phlegm in the throat
When untreated, Zenker's diverticulum can affect your quality of life and even be dangerous.
It can cause you to choke, and it can cause food to enter the wrong pipe, leading to pneumonia or death.
For these reasons, even a small Zenker's diverticulum should be treated.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis is made during endoscopy or by studying your swallowing on an X-ray.
Treatment requires cutting the overactive cricopharyngeus muscle, which is located at the bottom of the Zenker's diverticulum.
After this muscle is cut, food easily enters the esophagus and no longer gets stuck within the diverticulum.
Surgery can be performed in two ways:
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- One approach is to use a laser or stapler and cut the muscle through the mouth. This is ideal for patients who have small diverticulum.
- For larger pouches, a small cut on the neck is made. The muscle is then cut and the pouch is removed.