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Keywords:

  • Zenker's diverticulum;
  • esophageal diverticulum;
  • endoscopic diverticulostomy;
  • history of otolaryngology

Abstract

Zenker's diverticulum is a rare anatomic defect that physicians have confronted for almost 250 years. Its location at the interface of the pharynx, neck, and mediastinum makes surgical access difficult and risks severe morbidity. Minimally invasive endoscopic surgical repair of Zenker's diverticulum has been attempted for more than a century as an alternative to reduce morbidity of an open transcervical approach. However, limitations due to available antibiotics, instrumentation, and laryngoscopes, as well as a general discomfort with a sutureless closure of the mucosal excision, have delayed widespread adoption of minimally invasive repair until the last 10 to 15 years. This manuscript will detail the historical evolution of endoscopic surgical therapy for Zenker's diverticulum and highlight the work of two otolaryngologists, Chevalier Jackson and Gosta Dohlman, who were critical in advancing the surgical technique and reducing morbidity. Lastly, this manuscript will analyze the delay in widespread application of endoscopic surgical repair of Zenker's diverticulum. Laryngoscope, 119:39–44, 2009