SpringerOpen Newsletter

Receive periodic news and updates relating to SpringerOpen.

Open Access Open Badges Research

Traction esophageal diverticulum: a rare cause of gastro-intestinal bleeding

Umashankar K Ballehaninna1, Jason P Shaw2 and Igor Brichkov2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York 11219, USA

2 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Maimonides Medical Center, 4802 10th Avenue 4th Floor, Brooklyn, New York 11219, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

SpringerPlus 2012, 1:50  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-50

Published: 21 November 2012


Esophageal diverticula are uncommon lesions that are usually classified according to their location (cervical, thoracic, or epiphrenic), or underlying pathogenesis (pulsion or traction), and their morphology (true or false).The majority of esophageal diverticula are acquired lesions that occur predominantly in elderly adults. Pulsion, or false, diverticula are the most commonly encountered type of esophageal diverticula noticed at the level of cricopharyngeus muscle, occur as a localized outpouchings that lacks a muscular coat, and as such their wall is formed entirely by mucosa and submucosa.

True, or traction, esophageal diverticulum (TED) is seen in the middle one third of the thoracic esophagus in a peribronchial location, occurs secondary to mediastinal inflammatory lesions such as tuberculosis or histoplasmosis. The resultant desmoplastic reaction in the paraesophageal tissue causes full thickness pinching on the esophageal wall, producing a conical, broad-mouthed true diverticulum. They often project to the right side because subcarinal lymph nodes in this area are closely associated with the right anterior wall of the esophagus.

TED usually presents with symptoms such as dysphagia, postural regurgitation, belching, retrosternal pain, heartburn, and epigastric pain. As in patients with pharyngoesophageal (Zenker’s) diverticula, pulmonary symptoms are often present but underestimated in TED patients. These symptoms range from mild nocturnal cough to life-threatening massive aspiration. In this particular report we describe a rare case of TED presenting as a symptomatic upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Diagnostic evaluation of TED includes chest X-ray, barium esophagogram and manometry. A significant proportion of lower esophageal diverticula are associated with motility disorders. Management of TED include treating the underlying cause sometimes a surgical resection of diverticulum along with esophageal myotomy is necessitated in symptomatic patients.