What causes Zenker diverticulum?

Updated: Jan 23, 2018
  • Author: Joel A Ernster, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

A complete understanding of the etiology of Zenker diverticulum formation is not available. Further studies focused on the function of the cricopharyngeus (CP) muscle are likely to be fruitful.

Zenker diverticula occur in a muscular dehiscence that is present most commonly between the oblique muscle fibers of the inferior constrictor muscle and the transverse fibers of the CP muscle. This area is known as the Killian triangle. Other areas of muscular dehiscence occur between the oblique and transverse fibers of the CP muscle (ie, Killian-Jamieson area) and between the CP muscle and the esophageal muscles (ie, Laimer triangle). More inferiorly positioned Zenker diverticula may occur in one of these latter sites. (See the image below.)

Posterior view of the hypopharynx and proximal eso Posterior view of the hypopharynx and proximal esophagus showing the Killian triangle (dehiscence between the inferior constrictor muscle and the cricopharyngeus [CP] muscle), the Killian-Jamieson area (dehiscence between the oblique and transverse fibers of the CP muscle), and the Laimer triangle (dehiscence between the CP and esophageal muscles).

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