Cricopharyngeal Dysfunction & Pharyngeal Pouch


The cricopharyngeus muscle is the muscle at the junction between the throat and the oesophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach). When the cricopharyngeus does not open fully during swallowing, sticking of food in the bottom of the throat may result. This is called cricopharyngeal dysfunction. Cricopharyngeal dysfunction may also be associated with a pouch or hernia from the bottom part of the throat, referred to as either a pharyngeal pouch or a Zenker’s Diverticulum.

Cricopharyngeal dysfunction may be treated with a dilation (and a Botulinum Toxin injection), but the definitive procedure to treat cricopharyngeal dysfunction is a cricopharyngeal myotomy, a procedure in which the cricopharyngeus muscle is cut.

A cricopharyngeal myotomy is performed in one of two ways: either through the mouth using a laser or stapler to cut the muscle (Endoscopic Cricopharyngeal Myotomy), or via an external incision in the neck (External or Open Cricopharyngeal Myotomy). Both procedures are performed under general anaesthetic in the operating room and require two days in hospital after the surgery.