Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Esophageal Diverticula in Small Animals


Alice Defarges

, DVM, DACVIM, Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

Reviewed/Revised Oct 2022

Diverticula are pouch-like dilatations of the esophageal wall and may be congenital or acquired. They are rare in dogs and cats. Acquired diverticula are of two types: pulsion or traction.

Small diverticula may be subclinical. Large diverticula allow food to become trapped in the pouch, leading to postprandial dyspnea, regurgitation, and anorexia. Survey radiographs may show the diverticulum if it is full of ingesta or air; however, contrast radiographs are best to demonstrate the pouch. Endoscopy will also allow visualization and can identify ulceration and scarring.

Small diverticula may be treated with a bland, soft diet fed with the animal in an upright position. Large diverticula require surgical excision and reconstruction of the esophageal wall. The prognosis after surgery is fair to good.

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