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Postgrad Med J. 2001 Aug;77(910):506-11.

Pharyngeal pouch (Zenker's diverticulum).

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  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Bradford Royal Infirmary, Duckworth Lane, Bradford BD9 6RJ, UK.


Pharyngeal pouches occur most commonly in elderly patients (over 70 years) and typical symptoms include dysphagia, regurgitation, chronic cough, aspiration, and weight loss. The aetiology remains unknown but theories centre upon a structural or physiological abnormality of the cricopharyngeus. A diagnosis is easily established on barium studies. Treatment is surgical via an endoscopic or external cervical approach and should include a cricopharyngeal myotomy. Unfortunately pharyngeal pouch surgery has long been associated with significant morbidity, partly due to the surgery itself and also to the fact that the majority of patients are elderly and often have general medical problems. External approaches are associated with higher complication rates than endoscopic procedures. Recently, treatment by endoscopic stapling diverticulotomy has becoming increasingly popular as it has distinct advantages, although long term results are not yet available. The small risk of developing carcinoma within a pouch that is not excised remains a contentious issue and is an argument for long term follow up or treating the condition by external excision, particularly in younger patients.

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