November 21, 2010

Zenker's Diverticulum Endoscopic Treatment Confusion

Having treated many patients with Zenker's Diverticulum using the endoscopic approach, I've had many confused patients ask me how the diverticulum is treated if it is not removed.

For those unfamiliar with this disorder, click here for more information.

The basic concept of treating this rare disorder is that there is a common wall that divides the esophagus from the diverticulum pouch. This common wall is endoscopically divided such that the pouch now becomes the new back wall of the esophagus. So when the patient swallows, food/liquids can no longer get "trapped" causing symptoms.

Still confused? Here are some picture illustrations...

When endoscopically exposed, the pouch is denoted by the arrow.

When looking through the scope placed into the mouth down into the throat, there is a common wall that is between the pouch (blue arrow) and esophagus (green arrow).

Endoscopically, whether using a stapler or laser, this wall is divided down the middle. This picture shown below is when a stapler is used.

Here is the side view before and after common wall division:

After the procedure, any food/liquid substances that are swallowed can't be trapped in the pouch. Therefore, even though nothing is surgically removed, the patient's swallowing symptoms completely disappear.

Hopefully, this explanation helps clear up any confusion of what exactly happens!

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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