What is Zenker's Diverticulum?

Zenker's Diverticulum occurs when the wall of the swallowing track weakens and a pocket forms in the upper esophagus. When this happens, food or pill debris can become trapped in the pocket, rather than passing into the lower esophagus and stomach. That debris can then spill into the throat and cause coughing, recurrent pneumonia and even weight loss. This condition is diagnosed through an X-ray and/or endoscopy.

How is it treated?

Zenker's Diverticulum is treated with surgery. The classic operation involves manipulation or removal of the pocket through an incision on the neck.An alternative procedure is a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure done through the mouth. A specially designed telescope is inserted in the esophagus via the mouth. With the aid of a microscope and laser, a small incision is made in the muscular ring in the upper esophagus. This is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia and generally takes about 30 minutes. Patients will usually see an improvement in swallowing immediately after the procedure.

Most of the time, the condition can be treated with a single surgery. Complications or problems are rare and tubes or drains are not needed. A liquid diet is required for a short period following surgery to promote healing without infection.

Benefits

There are many benefits to choosing endoscopic laser procedure as treatment for Zenker's Diverticulum:

  • It is a safe, low-risk procedure.
  • It effectively relieves symptoms.
  • It is less painful than alternative procedures.
  • It is usually performed outpatient.
  • No incision is made externally.
  • Compared to other procedures, patients can eat and drink sooner following completion of the procedure.
  • Compared to other procedures, patients can return to normal activities sooner.
  • There is no risk of damage to nerves of the voice box.

Scheduling an Appointment

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call the Lexington Clinic otolaryngology/ENT department at (859) 258-4371.

Wayne B. Colin, DMD, MD, Lexington Clinic Otolaryngologist, has more than ten years of experience using this minimally invasive approach to Zenker's Diverticulum. He is dedicated to providing his patients with compassionate care and state-of-the-art treatment.