The condition known as Zenker’s diverticulum (ZD) is recognized as a pouch off the backside of the esophagus in the upper neck region. The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This small pouch or ZD can retain food, which makes it painful or difficult to swallow. It may also lead to halitosis (bad breath). The condition is more common in individuals over 60 to 70 years of age.
In the majority of cases involving Zenker’s diverticulum, the cause is related to an increased tension at the top of the esophagus in the muscle (cricopharyngeus muscle). This creates an obstruction in the esophagus.
Your doctor will first gain a patient history and do a physical examination to determine what a diagnosis might be. However, there will also be other tests that your physician may choose to recommend for you.
ZD can be diagnosed often with a specialized x-ray of the esophagus known as a barium esophagram. Alternatively ZD may be noted during endoscopy . During endoscopy the location and size of the ZD can be measured.
Unfortunately, there are no medications that can be used to treat ZD. The best way to resolve a ZD is to cut the thick muscle band between the pouch and true esophagus. This causes for the ZD to disappear and allows food to pass properly. This can be performed with specialized tools through an endoscope . In some cases very large ZDs may require surgical intervention.
Are you interested in learning more about Zenker’s Diverticulum or other swallowing disorders? We invite you to contact us to learn more. Dr. Prashant Kedia is a therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist serving patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Call today to schedule an appointment at (214) 941-6891.