Non-Invasive Procedure For Zenker's at UMC

Josefina Cadena is 74 years old. She was eating with her family at a party when suddenly something didn't feel right.

“When I eat, I feel that my food wouldn’t go through,” said Josefina. She explained that she felt as if she couldn’t breathe while she was eating. She stopped eating solid foods from fear of choking. Her doctor referred her to the University Medical Center of El Paso's Center for Diagnostic and Advanced Endoscopy. After several studies Josefina was diagnosed with Zenker’s diverticulum.

“The best way to explain Zenker’s is an outpouching at the back of her throat,” said Dr. Sandeep Patel, a gastroenterologist at University Medical Center. “So when she eats, her food gets stuck in this outpouching and she gets this sense of not swallowing at all. It’s very uncomfortable; causes nausea and vomiting, and she is losing weight.”

Because University Medical Center of El Paso offers a Center for Diagnostic and Advanced Endoscopy, doctors have new technologies to perform procedures that in the past used to be surgically treated.

“Historically this used to be an operation that was performed by our ears, nose and throat doctor, and they would do it surgically with an incision through the neck,” said Dr. Patel. “UMC’s Center for Diagnostic and Advanced Endoscopy now offers a new technique to correct Zenker’s diverticulum.”

This procedure is done endoscopically. Dr. Patel makes an incision with a flexible endoscope at the back of the throat. He then filets that muscle with a laser and some special electronic scalpels and essentially flattens the outpouching so that when Josefina swallows, it goes straight to the esophagus and she no longer has that sensation of food getting stuck in the back of her throat.  

“This patient is going to be done today and is going to go home today which doesn’t happen with a regular surgical treatment,” said Dr. Antonio Mendoza-Ladd, a gastroenterologist at UMC of El Paso.

Thanks to the generous grants from the Edward N. and Margaret G. Marsh Foundation and the Joe and Jessie Crump Foundation, UMC Foundation was able to purchase two Evis Towers: critical equipment for gastroenterologists to perform most of the procedures at UMC’s Center for Diagnostic and Advanced Endoscopy.

“Those machines are being used to treat several conditions,” said Dr. Mendoza-Ladd. “We perform all kinds of procedures with them: upper endoscopies, colonoscopies, endoscopic ultrasounds, which are only available at UMC at this time.”

The funds raised by UMC Foundation allow for the purchase of life-saving equipment at the Center for Diagnostic and Advanced Endoscopy, the only one in El Paso.

 Doctors and nurses could not provide the care these patients need without your generosity. It is because of your support that patients like Josefina do not have to travel to other cities to receive the treatment needed.