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Zenker’s Diverticulum

In Brief

by Justin Cole, MD, Michael Bergstein, MD, and Adele Shenoy, MD

Zenker’s diverticulum (ZD) is an outpouching of the hypopharyngeal mucosa through weakened inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscles in the posterior hypopharynx; typically, the cricopharyngeal muscle is involved.

This condition appears as a stretching of the lining of the lower part of the pharynx, just above the cricopharyngeal muscle and near the upper esophageal sphincter in an area known as the “triangle of Killian.”

It is a false diverticulum, because it does not involve all layers of the esophageal wall.

ZD is quite rare (prevalence, 0.11%) and is most commonly seen in men in their 70s and 80s.

Learn more about Zenker's diverticulum:

  • Signs and Symptoms

  • Causes of ZD

Diagnostic Evaluation and Differential Diagnosis

  • Treatment

  • Prognosis

  • Complications

  • and a Pearl to Know about ZD


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Justin Cole, MD

Dr. Cole is a Prospective Resident in the Otolaryngology Residency Program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He completed his undergraduate studies at Ohio University and received his MD degree from New York Medical College. His hobbies include camping, hiking, and downhill skiing.

Michael J. Bergstein, MD

Dr. Bergstein is a double-boarded, fellowship-trained surgeon with particular expertise in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Balloon Sinus Surgery. Dr. Bergstein completed his residency training in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. He then completed a Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship at the University of California at San Francisco. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and participates in the education and training of residents in all aspects of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. His hobbies include Ironman triathlons, surfing and Taekwondo. .

Adele Shenoy, MD

Dr. Shenoy graduated from New York Medical College and is currently a first-year resident in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai West/Mount Sinai Morningside. She will begin her Dermatology residency at Northwell next year. A native of Westport, Connecticut, Dr. Shenoy completed her undergraduate education at Dartmouth College. Her hobbies include running, ballet dancing, and playing the viola.


Costantini M, Zaninotto G, Rizzetto C, Narne S, Ancona E. Oesophageal diverticula. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroeneterol. 2004;18:3-17.

Law R, Katzka DA, Baron TH. Zenker’s diverticulum. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;12:1773-1782.

Little RE, Bock JM. Pharyngoesophageal diverticuli:­­­ diagnosis, incidence and management. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2016; 24:500-504.

Prisman E, Genden EM. Zenker diverticulum. Otolaryngol Clin N Am. 2012;46:1101-1111.


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