Cricopharyngeal myotomy is a surgical 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.  

During this procedure your surgeon will make an incision through the top muscle of the esophagus (cricopharyngeus) to allow the muscle to relax more easily during swallowing. You may not be a good candidate for this surgery if you have had prior spine or neck surgery. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia, and can be done either with an incision through the outside of the neck or endoscopically through the mouth. Both procedures require overnight admission, and the most common side effect is neck or throat pain. After surgery you will need to gradually transition from a liquid diet back to a solid diet. Your surgeon will provide you with this information after your procedure.