A Zenker’s diverticulum (ZD) is a pouch in the upper part of the esophagus (swallowing tube) that develops slowly over time. It seen most commonly in older patients. The diverticulum occurs between two muscles at the top of the esophagus when swallowing pressures cause a bulge in the muscular wall. This bulge can grow slowly over time eventually resulting a pouch that can retain food, liquids, and pills.  

Zenker’s Diverticulum Symptoms

Patients with a ZD often present with difficulty swallowing and with regurgitation of foods and liquids. Other symptoms that patients may experience with a ZD include cough, throat clearing, and voice changes. In severe cases of ZD, patients can develop weight loss, aspiration pneumonia and require hospitalization.

Zenker’s Diverticulum Diagnosis 

The diagnosis is usually made on a modified barium swallow study, a barium esophagram, or sometimes on esophageal endoscopy (EGD, rigid esophagoscopy or transansal esophagoscopy). 

Zenker’s Diverticulum Treatment 

Treatment for a ZD is surgical. The surgery is performed either through an incision (open surgery) in the neck or through the mouth (endoscopic) using either a laser or stapler, or both.