Introduction: Zenker's diverticulum (ZD) is a rare upper esophageal pathology that is most prevalent in the sixth and seventh decade. Three different therapeutical options are available: (1) open trans-cervical approach, (2) rigid endoscopy and (3) flexible endoscopy. Our hypothesis is that a flexible endoscopic cricomyotomy represents a safe and effective treatment of ZD as well as cricopharyngeal spasm.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of all patients that underwent a flexible endoscopic cricomyotomy at our institution between October 2008 and May 2014 was performed. Preoperative and postoperative (1 month and long-term follow-up) symptom scores and clinical outcomes were collected. Briefly, the ZD is carefully identified endoscopically and the common wall is divided using needle knife cautery with the help of an endoscopic cap. Clips are used to close the mucosal defect starting with the apex.
Results: Twenty-six patients underwent a flexible endoscopic myotomy for a ZD. Of 26 patients, five (19.2 %) had a history of previous open or stapled trans-oral myotomy and four (15.4 %) underwent a concomitant foregut procedure. Mean length of stay was 1.5 days (range 1-11). Mean operative time was 68 min (range 28-149). One patient presented with a postoperative leak, and one patient presented with a retained clip. Both were treated endoscopically. Recurrent weekly dysphagia was present in 3/26 (11.5 %). One patient (3.8 %) underwent an endoscopic bougie dilatation postoperatively. With regard to clinical outcomes, there was a statistically significant improvement in both short-term (1 month) and long-term (median follow-up 21.8 months; range 1-68.2 months) dysphagia (p < 0.001; p < 0.001), regurgitation (p = 0.001; p = 0.017), cough (p = 0.006; p = 0.025) and aspiration (p = 0.013; p = 0.013).
Conclusion: Flexible endoscopic cricomyotomy offers durable relief of dysphagia, regurgitation, cough and aspiration in ZD patients. It appears to have a good safety profile with symptomatic recurrence occurring in up to 11.5 % of cases.
Keywords: Cricomyotomy; Dysphagia; Flexible endoscopy; Therapeutic endoscopy; Zenker.