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What Causes Diverticulum?

Your digestive tract connects your mouth with your stomach and, eventually, your intestines. It’s important for your digestive tract to function smoothly, so your body can absorb needed nutrients from your food and efficiently eliminate waste.

If you have a digestive tract condition like diverticulosis, which involves the formation of a diverticulum, the expert gastroesophageal and endoscopic surgeons at the Center for Advanced Surgery are here to help. We can diagnose your diverticula and help you get on a path to management or recovery.

Here’s what our team, under the leadership of Marc Ward, MD, and Steven Leeds, MD, want you to know about the causes of diverticula, as well as information about your treatment options.

Types of diverticula

A diverticulum is an abnormal pouch that forms in your digestive tract due to pressure. You can develop diverticulosis in locations including your esophagus and your intestines. The most common area for diverticula is your lower large intestine and colon.

You could also develop Zenker's diverticulum, sometimes called hypopharyngeal diverticulum, pharyngoesophageal diverticulum, or pharyngeal pouch. In this condition, a diverticulum forms in the area where your esophagus joins your pharynx.

You might end up with more than one diverticulum in your digestive tract.

Developing a diverticulum

Conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can damage your esophagus, leading to a diverticulum in that area. Pressure caused by swallowing, as your upper esophageal sphincter struggles to properly open and close, can lead to the formation of an esophageal diverticulum.

Several conditions and risk factors increase your chances of developing a diverticulum problem. Men are at higher risk, as are all patients over the age of 70, of getting Zenker's diverticulum. Diverticula tend to start forming after the age of 40 in most people.

Your risk of diverticula also relates to lifestyle factors, including your weight, your exercise habits, and smoking cigarettes. Eating high amounts of animal fat, not getting enough fiber, and using medications including steroids, opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also increase your risk of diverticulitis.

Treatment options for your diverticulitis

If left untreated, diverticula in your intestines can progress to diverticulitis, becoming inflamed or infected. Esophageal motility disorders like a diverticulum in your esophagus can lead to difficulty swallowing. 

Issues like diverticula in your digestive tract overall decrease your body’s ability to get the nutritional resources you need.

At the Center for Advanced Surgery, we offer comprehensive diagnosis and support services for new and existing patients who are dealing with diverticula in their digestive systems. 

We use advanced treatment techniques, such as endoscopic treatment with the Z-POEM (Per Oral Endoscopic Myotomy) system, that can help you avoid the need for surgery.

To learn more about diverticula, and to request a diagnosis or personalized treatment plan, contact the experts at the Center for Advanced Surgery now. You can book your consultation at our Dallas, Plano, and Tyler, Texas, offices by calling us today or booking online at your convenience.

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