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Dysphagia. 2013 Jun;28(2):212-6. doi: 10.1007/s00455-012-9434-9. Epub 2012 Dec 1.

Use of glucagon in relieving esophageal food bolus impaction in the era of eosinophilic esophageal infiltration.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, York Hospital, 1001 South George Street, York, PA 17403, USA.


Esophageal food bolus impaction may require an urgent endoscopy. Glucagon is often administered to promote spontaneous passage of the food bolus. Eosinophilic esophagitis is increasingly recognized as a cause of dysphagia, and food impaction is often the presenting symptom. Our study was aimed at determining the effectiveness of glucagon in relieving esophageal foreign body obstruction in general and in the setting of esophageal eosinophilic infiltration (EEI). A retrospective chart review was performed using the ICD codes and the emergency department database of adult patients presenting with symptoms of esophageal food bolus impaction from July 2004 to October 2010. Response to glucagon was defined as symptomatic relief of obstruction prior to endoscopic intervention. A total of 213 episodes of esophageal food bolus obstruction in 192 patients were identified during the study period. Glucagon was given in 125 cases of which 41 had a response (32.8 %). A total of 170 episodes had an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy performed either during the impaction event or at a later date. Of the 60 patients' biopsies, 45 had received glucagon (17 with EEI, 28 without EEI). None of the 17 episodes with EEI as compared to 8 of the 28 without EEI responded to glucagon (0 % vs. 28.5 %, p = 0.017). Glucagon is effective in about one third of patients with esophageal food bolus impaction, which is consistent with historical data. Patients with EEI appear less likely to respond to glucagon.

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