Pharyngoesophageal diverticulum in each of three sisters
Laurence K. Groves, M.D.
Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
PHARYNGOESOPHAGEAL diverticulum (Zenker’s diverticulum) is familiar to all surgeons interested in esophageal problems. It is ordinarily not seen in younger than middle-aged patients, and it is considerably commoner in males than in females. In Shallow and Clerf’s1 series of 186 patients, 78 percent were males and 22 percent were females. The series of Finney and Gaertner2 comprised 36 males and 11 females. My personal series of patients comprises 35 males and 12 females (including two of the females of this report). It was a great surprise, therefore, when a 63-year-old woman recently told me that she was sure she had a cervical diverticulum and that she wanted surgical treatment because her sister had done so well after I resected her diverticulum. The woman did indeed have a pharyngoesophageal diverticulum, as had had her sister. When I told her that this in my experience was distinctly unusual, as I could not recall personally encountering the condition in more than one member of a family, nor could I remember other reports of familial incidence, she stated that in her family it must be familial, as a third sister had also had the same condition. A review of records confirmed that in 1949, Robert S. Dinsmore, M.D. (now deceased), of this institution, had operated on the third sister when she was 51 years old.
There were five sisters and two brothers in that family. In addition to the three sisters with proved diverticula, a deceased brother also may have had such a diverticulum.