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Zenkers' diverticulum


Zenker's diverticulum is defined as the formation of a hernia, an abnormal pocket at the junction between the lining of the pharynx and the esophagus. The presence of this cavity is due to muscle weakness in the wall of the pharynx, which therefore allows mucus to leak into the innermost layer, the muscular layer, and form the pocket. These diverticula are mainly found in people over 65.


The symptoms of Zenker's diverticulum are:
  • an unpleasant sensation of a foreign body in the pharynx;
  • disorders with difficulty swallowing food;
  • bad breath;
  • spontaneous regurgitation of food consumed or induced by palpation of the neck;
  • a palpable swelling in the neck;
  • In some cases, broncho-pulmonary complications such as pneumonia due to the inhalation of food.


The diagnosis of Zenker's diverticulum is done by radiation. The doctor may perform two techniques. He can either perform a barium swallow that permits - after the ingestion of a product that will show up on the X-ray - the locating of lesions in the mucous membranes of the digestive tract by radiography. The second method, UGIE or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, is often avoided because there is a high risk of perforation of the diverticulum at the time of the introduction of the endoscope into the esophagus, but allows a direct visual of the issue.


The treatment of Zenker's diverticulum can be endoscopic or surgical. Surgical treatment involves the removal of the diverticulum and part of the pharyngeal muscle. Another treatment is possible; it is an endoscopic laser treatment. This technique allows the cutting of the wall of the diverticulum and connecting it to the cervical esophagus.