An esophageal diverticulum is a pouch of stretched weakened tissue that
develops in the esophagus, pushing outward through its muscular wall.
This pocket-like structure can appear anywhere in the esophageal lining
between the throat and stomach.
Esophageal diverticula are classified by their location within the esophagus:
- Zenker’s diverticula is the most common type of diverticula of the
esophagus. These are usually located in the back of the throat, just above
- Midthoracic diverticula occur in the middle of the esophagus
- Epiphrenic diverticula occur at the bottom of the esophagus, just above
Risk Factors for Esophageal Diverticula
Esophageal diverticula are rare and can be congenital or acquired. They
most often occur in adults over 50, especially those aged 70 and older.
Individuals who have a swallowing or esophageal-motility disorder, such as
achalasia, related to malfunctioning sphincter muscles at the upper (Zenker’s)
or lower (epiphrenic) end of the esophagus, and/or along its length (pulsion
diverticula) are more prone to developing an esophageal diverticulum.
In addition, individuals with esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
are also at increased risk for esophageal diverticula.
Symptoms of Esophageal Diverticula
Typically, an esophageal diverticulum grows slowly over a period of years,
gradually producing increasing symptoms such as:
Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Regurgitation of indigested food (often occurs at night when lying down)
- Choking and coughing, especially when lying down
- Aspiration of diverticulum contents, which can lead to pneumonia and other
Because esophageal diverticula symptoms are similar to many other conditions
that cause symptoms of dysphagia, accurate evaluation is critical to ensure
proper treatment. That’s why it’s important to seek care from
a healthcare expert experienced in the complex
treatment of swallowing disorders and other gastroesophageal conditions.
Expert Care You Can Trust!
Hoag Digestive Disease Center, in alliance with USC Norris Comprehensive
Cancer Center, continues to lead the way in complex gastroesophageal care, providing
access to a highly specialized surgical team that works collaboratively
with Hoag-affiliated thoracic surgeons, gastroenterologists and other
medical specialists to provide academic-level care. Hoag’s committed
diagnosis, combined with
progressive therapeutic options enables Hoag patients to achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes
in the nation.
To schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, or a second-opinion
consultation with a Hoag gastroesophageal expert, visit
Meet the Team, or call us at: 888-566-9712.