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Why do Zenker's diverticulae occur more often on the left than the right side?

  • N A Fitchat (a1), S Maharaj (a1) and M O Kwete (a1)



Zenker's diverticulum is a pharyngoesophageal outpouching of mucosa and submucosa through Killian's dehiscence.


To investigate the propensity for Zenker's diverticulum to occur on the left side by examining muscle thickness in Killian's dehiscence, and to explore correlations between muscle thickness, sex, height and age.


The study included 109 Caucasian cadavers, 52 male and 57 female. The mean thickest and thinnest measurements of left medial, left lateral, right medial and right lateral aspects of Killian's dehiscence were calculated. The paired student's t-test was used to determine significance.


The average left muscle layer was significantly thinner than the right muscle layer, in both medial and lateral aspects. Furthermore, medial muscle thickness was significantly thinner than its respective lateral aspect for both the left and right sides. No correlations were found between muscle thickness and cadavers’ sex, length or stature, or age.


There was a significant difference in muscle thickness between the left and right sides of Killian's dehiscence. The findings suggest there is a reason why Zenker's diverticulum occurs predominantly on the left side. The study also showed a significant difference in muscle thickness between the medial and lateral aspects of Killian's triangle.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Dr Shivesh Maharaj, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa E-mail:


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Dr S Maharaj takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper



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Why do Zenker's diverticulae occur more often on the left than the right side?

  • N A Fitchat (a1), S Maharaj (a1) and M O Kwete (a1)


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