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Esophageal diverticula
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Esophageal diverticula

Contributors: Michael W. Winter MD, Christine Osborne MD, Paritosh Prasad MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Esophageal diverticula are caused by outpouching of one or more layers of the esophageal wall, classified by their location:
  • Zenker diverticulum – proximal to the upper esophageal sphincter
  • Traction diverticulum – mid-esophageal
  • Epiphrenic diverticulum – proximal to the lower esophageal sphincter
Esophageal diverticula are more common in patients with esophageal motility disorders. Proximal diverticula (ie, Zenker diverticula) can present with oropharyngeal dysphagia, regurgitation, aspiration, halitosis, or a neck mass. Distal diverticula (ie, traction or epiphrenic diverticula) more typically present with dysphagia.

The etiology of esophageal diverticula is unknown, but they are caused by weaknesses in the esophageal wall. Zenker diverticula occur more frequently in elderly patients; distal diverticula occur more frequently in patients with achalasia. Diverticula can also present proximal to esophageal strictures.


K22.5 – Diverticulum of esophagus, acquired

414133009 – Esophageal Diverticula

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Esophageal motility disorder (achalasia, esophageal spasm)
  • Esophageal stricture
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Esophageal carcinoma

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Last Reviewed:12/14/2017
Last Updated:12/14/2017
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Esophageal diverticula
A medical illustration showing key findings of Esophageal diverticula : Chest pain, Halitosis, Globus sensation, Dysphagia, Regurgitation
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.