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 in the tract, which causes bad breath, difficulty with swallowing, and can lead to aspiration pneumonia.
Surgery is recommended once it is diagnosed. The operation involves an incision to the left of the neck to divide the pharyngoesophageal muscle, and then to either remove or suspend the diverticulum and prevent further complications. Most patients have complete resolution of their symptoms after surgery and are discharged home in 2-3 days.