Zenker's diverticulum refers to an outpouching of the esophagus as a result of dysfunction of the pharyngoesophageal muscle. This dysfunction leads to increased pressure which causes the outpouching, usually on the left side. The diverticulum leads to food or pills getting stuck, causes bad breath, causes difficulty with swallowing, and can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
Surgery is recommended once it is diagnosed. The operation involves a left neck incision to divide the pharyngoesophageal muscle and then to either remove or suspend the diverticulum to prevent further complications. Most patients have complete resolution of their symptoms after surgery and are discharged home in 2-3 days time.