Cricopharyngeal myotomy is used to treat problems of swallowing. Cricopharyngeal myotomy can be performed either through the mouth, or via a small incision on the neck.
The cricopharyngeus muscle is located at the bottom of the throat and at the top of the esophagus. It is a sphincter like muscle which circles the entire esophagus. When overly active, the cricopharyngeus muscle may cause problems such as “lump in the throat” sensation, difficulty swallowing, or contribute to a Zenker’s Diverticulum.
Cutting of the cricopharyngeus muscle is very helpful in these conditions and is performed with the patient asleep in the operating room.
In the traditional approach a cut is made on the skin and the cricopharyngeus muscle is identified. Using a knife the muscle is cut and the throat and upper esophageal sphincter relaxes. The cricopharyngeus muscle is close the recurrent laryngeal nerves. Thus a risk of this procedure is damage to this nerve, which may result in hoarseness.
Endoscopic cricopharyngeal myotomy is a minimally-invasive approach through the mouth. With the patient asleep a laryngoscope is placed through the mouth and positioned behind the voice box. The muscular cricopharygeal bulge is identified and a laser is used to cut this muscle.
Patients may be asked to not eat for a small period of time after surgery to allow proper healing to occur.