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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 13 (1999), Issue 5, Pages 405-407

Zapping Zenker’s Diverticulum: Gastroscopic Treatment

Chris JJ Mulder

Department of Hepatogastroenterology, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Zenker’s diverticulum (ZD) is a common cause of dysphagia in the elderly. Many symptomatic elderly are poor candidates for surgery and/or ear, nose and throat treatment. The author’s first experiences with gastroscopic treatment by cutting the Zenker bridge to allow an overflow have recently been published. Only patients with contraindications for general anesthesia were accepted to the pilot group. However, the author now treats all ZD patients in this manner. One hundred and twenty-five patients (male to female ratio 1.6) were referred for treatment from 1993 to 1997. After introduction of the gastroscope into the esophagus, a nasogastric tube was positioned to treat a ZD bridge with a height of less than 1 cm. The ZD bridge was divided by argon plasma coagulation, if necessary, in combination with monopolar forceps, Savary dilator and/or precut needle. All patients received antibiotics, topical anesthesia to the throat, if necessary, and intravenous midazolam, if possible. Radiography was performed after treatment. Normalization of the diet was allowed when the x-ray showed no signs of leakage. All patients referred for treatment were treated successfully. The median age was 77 years (range 41 to 100 years). Symptomatic improvement was seen in all patients after treatment. Complications included subcutaneous emphysema (n=17), mediastinal emphysema (n=5) and bleeding (n=2). One patient (95 years of age) died in her nursing home 27 days after treatment due to massive pulmonary embolism. The thirty-day mortality rate was otherwise zero. Three patients had been previously treated by surgeons and 12 by ear, nose and throat physicians, without sufficient improvement; all were adequately treated by the author. The mean number of treatment sessions was 1.8. This approach seems safe and effective. Treatment of every patient was possible and was carried out, even in patients in very poor condition, without general anesthesia.