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Diverticulum Specialist

Center for Advanced Surgery

Gastro-Esophageal and Endoscopic Surgeons located in Dallas, Plano, & Tyler, TX

A diverticulum is an abnormal pouch that can develop at various places along your digestive tract, including your esophagus. If you have an esophageal disorder like Zenker's diverticulum, board-certified gastroesophageal surgeons Marc Ward, MD, and Steven Leeds, MD, at the Center for Advanced Surgery can help. They are experts in treating diverticulum using advanced techniques like Z-POEM, a form of per oral endoscopic myotomy that avoids the need for surgery. Call one of the Center for Advanced Surgery's offices in Dallas, Plano, or Tyler, Texas, today to schedule a consultation or use the online booking facility.

Diverticulum

What is a diverticulum?

A diverticulum is a pouch of tissue that can form along your digestive tract. Diverticula (more than one diverticulum) can form in many places, including your intestines. Intestinal diverticula can cause diverticulitis if the pouches become inflamed or infected.

A diverticulum can also form where your pharynx meets your esophagus. Your pharynx is at the top of the back part of your throat, below your nasal cavity. The hypopharynx is the bottom of your pharynx, where it joins your esophagus.

A diverticulum forming in this part of your throat is called Zenker's diverticulum. It's also known as hypopharyngeal diverticulum, pharyngoesophageal diverticulum, or pharyngeal pouch.

This is a rare condition that's more likely to affect you if you're over 70. Men are at higher risk of getting Zenker's diverticulum than women.


What causes a diverticulum?

An esophageal diverticulum develops when there's a fault with the upper esophageal sphincter (UES) at the top of your esophagus. The UES opens to allow food to go down the esophagus when you swallow, then closes again.

If the UES doesn't open properly when you swallow, it puts pressure on a part of your pharynx wall. The pressure gradually forces the pharyngeal tissue outward, forming a pouch or diverticulum.

Problems with the UES can develop with age and as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).


What symptoms does Zenker's diverticulum cause?

The key symptom of Zenker's diverticulum is difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), which affects up to 90% of patients.

Other symptoms of Zenker's diverticulum include:

  • Regurgitating food
  • Problems swallowing oral medication
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Hoarse voice
  • Persistent cough
  • Aspiration (food and drink going into the airways)
  • Feeling like there's a lump in your throat

Without expert treatment from the team at the Center for Advanced Surgery, diverticulum symptoms are likely to worsen over time.


How is a diverticulum treated?

Making changes to the way you eat can help ease the symptoms of Zenker's diverticulum. Eating less in one go, slowing the speed of your eating, chewing food properly, and sipping water between mouthfuls can make a noticeable difference.

If your diverticulum isn't causing you much trouble, you might not need treatment to begin with. However, if it starts causing moderate to severe symptoms, the Center for Advanced Surgery can perform an endoscopic procedure called Z-POEM to address the problem.

Z-POEM (Zenker's per oral endoscopic myotomy) is a type of esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) or upper endoscopy in which your provider uses an endoscope to perform incisionless surgery.

The Center for Advanced Surgery team specializes in using Z-POEM to treat esophageal diverticulum. To get an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms or find out more about treatments for a diverticulum, call the Center for Advanced Surgery today or book an appointment online.