Cricopharyngeal botulinum toxin injection is a procedure to improve swallowing function. Sometimes patients may have tightness or incomplete relaxation at the top muscle of the esophagus, the swallowing tube that goes to the stomach, which makes it difficult to swallow. Read more about these conditions here: Zenker’s Diverticulum, cricopharyngeal dysfunction.  

Your surgeon will inject botulinum toxin into the top muscle of your esophagus to cause weakness of the muscle so it relaxes more easily during swallowing. This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. The effects of injections are temporary, and patients may need to repeat them every 3 to 6 months to maintain their swallowing function. There are usually minimal side effects to injections, though there is a small risk for botulinum toxin to spread to other muscles of the throat. If this happens a patient can experience worsened swallowing function until the effects of the injection wear off.