Information about Zenkers Diverticulum
Zenkers diverticulum is more common in men than women and is more commonly seen in peoply over 60 years of age.
Affected people may suffer from long-standing difficulty with eating and drinking (dysphagia), regurgitation, bad breath, weight loss, and even aspiration (the passage of food or other hazardous material into the lungs).
The diagnosis may be made by endoscopy, functional endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), or more reliably, barium oesophagography. The barium x-ray below shows a medium sized Zenkers Diverticulum . Note the pouch in the region of the oesophageal inlet.
A Zenkers diverticulum may also be called:
- Pharyngo-oesophageal diverticulum
- Pharyngeal pouch
A Zenkers diverticulum is a diverticulum of the mucosa of the pharynx, just above the cricopharyngeal muscle (i.e. above the upper sphincter of the oesophagus).
It is a false diverticulum (not involving all layers of the oesophageal wall).
It was named in 1877 by German pathologist Friedrich Albert von Zenker
Surgery for Zenkers Diverticulum
- The recovery period after surgery for a Zenkers Diverticulum is generally smooth and uncomplicated
- The following general information and suggestions may help you through this period
What to expect following surgery for a Zenkers Diverticulum
- A sore throat is common following this surgery and may last for 1 to 2 weeks
- Sores in the mouth or swelling of the lips may occur and should resolve within one week
- You may experience some nausea which should improve after 24 hours
- You may have a low grade fever under 38 degrees
- Fluids are essential – start with ice cubes, sips of water or your favourite juice drink and then progress to at least 250mL of drink per hour until you are able to tolerate a soft diet
- If eating and drinking causes pain or shortness of breath please contact your doctor immediately
- Cold drinks, non-acidic juices, ice cream and ice blocks are tolerated better in the first 24 hours after surgery
- Progress to eating soft foods gradually
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your throat moist
- AVOID acidic foods or juices, salty and fried foods (potato chips, fries, hard toast and popcorn)
- You will receive prescriptions for pain medications, antibiotics and possibly medications for nausea if needed
- Take pain medication as prescribed every 4 to 6 hours as needed – eating will easier around 30 minutes after taking pain medication
- You will need to take an anti-reflux medication such as Losec, Nexium or Pariet for the first six weeks
- DO NOT take aspirin, aspirin based products or NSAIDS such as Nurofen for pain relief as this may increase your risk of bleeding
- Rest with limited activity at home for 24 to 48 hours
- Avoid lifting, straining or vigorous activities
Generally your follow-up will consist of:
- A visit at 2 to 3 weeks – you will need to ring the office to make an appointment for that visit
- Α final surgical check up at 3 months
- You will also need to be reviewed by your local doctor at around 6 weeks
- If you are unable to return to Sydney for follow-up, it may be for your follow-up to be undertaken by your local doctor – we would need to confirm these arrangements before you leave hospital
If you have any problems, following your surgery, you should speak to your local doctor, who will arrange to contact your ENT Specialist