Everything You Need to Know About Esophageal Diverticula
An esophageal diverticulum is a protruding pouch in the lining of the esophagus. It forms in a weak area of the esophagus. The pouch can be anywhere from 1 to 4 inches in length.
There are three types of esophageal diverticula (plural of diverticulum), based on where they’re located:
- Zenker’s diverticulum.This type develops near the top of the esophagus.
- Midthoracic diverticulum. This type occurs in the middle part of the esophagus.
- Epiphrenic diverticulum. This type is located in the lower part of the esophagus.
Read on to learn more about this rare condition.
Esophageal diverticula don’t always cause problems. When they do, the symptoms tend to come on slowly as the pouch grows.
Common symptoms of an esophageal diverticulum include:
- difficulty swallowing
- feeling like food is caught in the throat
- regurgitating food when bending over, lying down, or standing up
- pain when swallowing
- chronic cough
- bad breath
- chest pain
- neck pain
- weight loss
- vocal changes
- Boyce’s sign, which is a gurgling sound when air passes through the diverticulum
Experts aren’t sure about the exact causes of esophageal diverticula. Some people are born with it, while other develop it later in life.
In adults, it’s often associated with increased pressure within the esophagus. This pressure causes the lining to protrude in a weakened area. Potential causes of this increased pressure include:
- malfunction of the sphincters on either end of the esophagus
- inflammation from outside the esophagus
- food not moving properly through the esophagus
- malfunctioning of the swallowing mechanism
It can also be a complication of a surgical procedure near the neck, or conditions that affect collagen, such as Ehler-Danlos syndrome.