Intravenous glucagon in the management of esophageal food obstruction

Jonathan Glauser, G. Patrick Lilja, Bernard Greenfeld, Ernest Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The use of intravenous glucagon in patients with obstructing esophageal food impaction of at least 24-hours duration has recently been described. Two cases of acute esophageal obstruction were relieved within ten minutes by intravenous infusion of 1 mg of glucagon. Esophagram performed both before and after glucagon administration confirmed the original obstruction and the passage of the food bolus. Therapy for bolus obstruction of the esophagus has classically included proteolytic enzyme digestion, as well as esophagoscopy with manual extraction. Each entails risk of esophageal perforation and mediastinitis. Also, the dose of proteolytic enzymes, such as papain, may take several hours to administer while endoscopic examination is generally not feasible as an outpatient emergency procedure. Intravenous glucagon can dissolve food other than meat and has the further advantage of safety in the patient in which anticholinergics, another occasionally employed therapy, are contraindicated. A protocol for management of these patients is included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-231
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American College of Emergency Physicians
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1979


  • esophageal perforation
  • esophagus, foreign bodies
  • glucagon, intravenous, foreign bodies


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