Esophageal diverticula: patient assessment

Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1999 Oct;11(4):326-36. doi: 10.1016/s1043-0679(99)70077-8.


Esophageal diverticula are best classified by their anatomic location: pharyngoesophageal (Zenker's diverticula), midthoracic, and epiphrenic. Most diverticula result from esophageal motility disorders. Although some patients are asymptomatic and diverticula are incidental findings, most patients are symptomatic. Dysphagia, regurgitation, and pain are common complaints, however, symptoms are often nonspecific and may be the result of an associated esophageal motility disorder. Contrast radiography is the prime diagnostic tool; evaluation of the diverticulum, associated esophageal abnormalities, and complications are assessed by a barium esophogram. Esophagoscopy adds little to the evaluation of the diverticulum but may be indicated in the assessment of other esophageal abnormalities. Motility studies, which may be difficult or hazardous to perform, are of little use in the diagnosis and treatment of Zenker's diverticula. Manometric evaluation of midthoracic or epiphrenic diverticula usually show an associated motility disorder and may influence treatment decisions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diverticulum, Esophageal / diagnosis*
  • Diverticulum, Esophageal / diagnostic imaging
  • Diverticulum, Esophageal / pathology
  • Esophagoscopy / methods*
  • Esophagus / diagnostic imaging
  • Esophagus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Manometry
  • Radiography