Pharyngeal Stasis of Secretions in Patients with Zenker Diverticulum

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Abstract

Objective.

To determine whether patients with Zenker diverticulum are more likely to have stasis of secretions in the left piriform sinus, on in-office endoscopy, than patients with nonspecific dysphagia.

Study Design.

A case-control study.

Setting.

A subspecialty swallowing clinic.

Subjects and Methods.

All patients with radiographically confirmed Zenker diverticulum who were evaluated over a 5-year period were selected. A control group with dysphagia due to radiographically confirmed esophageal dysmotility, prominent cricopharyngeal bar, or stricture was identified. Two blinded laryngologists reviewed the recorded laryngopharyngoscopies.

Results.

Thirty-four patients with Zenker diverticulum were identified; 11 were excluded because of previous surgery or other neurological conditions. Twelve (52.17%) of the remaining 23 Zenker diverticulum patients and 2 of the 73 (2.74%) control patients had greater pooling in the left versus right piriform sinus (2-tailed t test, P < .0001). The sensitivity of this physical examination finding in identifying patients with Zenker diverticulum was 52.17% (95% confidence interval, 31.08%-72.58%) and specificity was 97.26% (95% confidence interval, 89.56-99.52%). Patients with Zenker diverticulum less than 4 cm in size had increased pooling in the left versus right piriform compared with larger diverticulums. After surgical intervention, there was a statistically significant decrease in the asymmetrical pooling (2-tailed t test, P = .0067).

Conclusion.

Increased pooling in the left compared with the right piriform, on in-office endoscopy, is predictive of the presence of a Zenker diverticulum. This information can sharpen clinical acumen in evaluating patients with dysphagia. In turn, it will help the clinician counsel the patient regarding diagnosis and radiographic imaging.

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