Epiphrenic diverticulum is a rare disease associated with distal esophageal obstruction and a weakened muscularis propria. We have adhered to an operative strategy of excision (diverticulectomy), repair of esophageal wall, and relief of functional and mechanical obstruction. We sought to assess this pathophysiology-directed treatment strategy. From 1987 to 2005, 44 patients underwent surgery for epiphrenic diverticulum. Diverticulectomy, repair, and relief of distal obstruction was performed in 35 (80%) and esophagectomy in nine (10%). Outcome (symptoms, diet, subsequent therapies and morbidity) was assessed by follow-up. Forty of 44 patients had preoperatively identifiable esophageal obstruction (91%). Distal obstruction was functional in 32 patients and mechanical in 24; these conditions coexisted in 16. After surgery, there were no in-hospital deaths; 15 patients experienced 22 in-hospital complications. Survival was 90% at 5 years and 72% at 10 years. Symptoms improved in most patients (P = 0.0004), except for gastroesophageal reflux; new symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux occurred in 9/27 (33%) without this symptom preoperatively. Diet was less restricted postoperatively (P < 0.0001). Of 35 patients undergoing diverticulectomy, three (8.6%) required dilatation and two (6%) reoperation; 6/9 esophagectomy patients required dilatations. Preoperative assessment must include evaluation for mechanical obstruction. Adherence to a pathophysiology-directed operative strategy is safe and will improve the symptoms of most patients, with little need for reintervention. However, occasional patients will experience new symptoms, particularly reflux. Esophagectomy is the alternative for patients who are not candidates for diverticulectomy, repair of esophageal wall, and relief of distal obstruction.
- Esophageal motility
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