Hypopharyngeal diverticulum formation following anterior discectomy and fusion: Case series | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Hypopharyngeal diverticulum formation following anterior discectomy and fusion: Case series

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November 1, 2010
by Terah J. Allis, MD, Nazaneen N. Grant, MD, and Bruce J. Davidson


Pharyngoesophageal diverticulum is a rare complication following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Dysphagia is a well-documented complication associated with ACDF. It may result postoperatively from a variety of etiologies, including hardware displacement, pharyngeal edema, or vocal fold paresis. One rare cause of persistent dysphagia is the formation of a hypopharyngeal diverticulum, reported in the literature in 9 previous cases. Such diverticula after ACDF surgery may have pathogenesis that is distinct from that of typical Zenker diverticula. We report 3 new cases of hypopharyngeal diverticula in patients who underwent revision ACDFs. Variables assessed included age, sex, level of fusion, ACDF-related complications, and diverticulum management. Two patients underwent successful open surgical diverticulectomy and cricopharyngeal myotomy. In the third case, the patient had a small diverticulum close to the surgical hardware and minimal symptoms and was managed conservatively. Our cases, combined with the 9 previous cases, demonstrate commonalities, particularly with regard to the risk of revision spinal surgery and infection and subsequent hypopharyngeal diverticula development. Hypopharyngeal diverticulum can occur as a complication of ACDF and should be considered in patients with persistent dysphagia after surgery. In this patient population, open resection and cricopharyngeal myotomy are recommended.

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