Safety and efficacy of glucagon for the relief of acute esophageal food impaction

April 2012
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;4/1/2012, Vol. 69 Issue 7, p573
Academic Journal
Purpose. The safety and efficacy of i.v. glucagon for the relief of acute esophageal food impaction were evaluated. Summary. The medical literature was reviewed to identify published trials and case series on the use of i.v. glucagon for the relief of acute esophageal food impaction. Individual case reports and limited case series were excluded from the analysis. This search yielded two retrospective reviews, three prospective reviews, and one randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Only two of the studies analyzed the effect of glucagon alone. Two studies combined this therapy with benzodiazepines, and the other two combined this therapy with an effervescent product and water. Of the two studies that had a control group, one demonstrated no significant difference in the success rate of dislodgement and one showed a nonsignificantly lower success rate in the treatment group. The majority of reports excluded patients with known esophageal strictures and treated a variety of different food-type impactions, making it difficult to determine if the success of this therapy may be tied to a specific subgroup. Few studies documented the adverse effects of this therapy, the most common being nausea and vomiting. Although limited, the available data do not support the use of glucagon for the relief of acute esophageal food impaction. Conclusion. Based on the available data, the use of i.v. glucagon for the relief of acute esophageal food impaction is not supported by the literature. In addition, glucagon has the potential to cause adverse effects and decrease the likelihood of spontaneous resolution.


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