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Peroral Pharyngeal Block for Placement of Esophageal Endoprostheses
  1. Marc A. Valley, M.D.*,
  2. Anthony N. Kalloo, M.D.** and
  3. Craig S. Curry, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.
  2. *Senior Clinical Fellow, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.
  3. **Assistant Professor, Division of Gastroenterology, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore.
  4. Staff Anesthesiologist, Department of Anesthesiology, Maine Medical Center, Portland.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Marc A. Valley, M.D., Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Blalock 1410, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore, MD. 21205.


Background and Objectives. The placement of plastic peroral endoprostheses frequently is done in the United States as a palliation for esophageal cancer. However, the combination of topical local anesthetics and sedatives, the most commonly used means to achieve anesthesia, can cause complications and often does not adequately suppress the gag reflex. The purpose of this study was to compare sedation requirements in patients receiving the standard topical local anesthetic versus patients receiving peroral pharyngeal plexus block.

Methods. From December 1987 through April 1991, 11 patients underwent endoscopic esophageal stent placement. The first six patients received topical 10% lidocaine spray, the other five patients received pharyngeal plexus blocks. Supplemental sedation was given until the patient closed their eyes but were responsive to verbal stimuli. Completeness of block was evaluated by stimulating the posterior oropharynx. Total sedative requirements were recorded for each patient.

Results. Patients receiving pharyngeal plexus block had profound anesthesia and suppression of the gag reflex, as determined by examination and the patient's tolerance of the procedure. Patients receiving only topical anesthesia and intravenous sedation tolerated the procedure poorly and required a greater amount of intravenous sedation than those in the blocked group ( p < 0.01). There were no anesthetic complications in patients receiving pharyngeal blocks.

Conclusions. Our experience indicates that the endoscopic placement of esophageal endoprostheses is optimally performed with the aid of pharyngeal plexus block. This block provides profound anesthesia with minimal risk in debilitated, high-risk patients. The neuroanatomy of the oropharynx is also reviewed.

  • Airway reflexes
  • anesthesia
  • local anesthetic
  • nerve block
  • endoscopy
  • cancer
  • esophageal
  • esophageal stent placement
  • glossopharyngeal nerve
  • peroral pharyngeal block
  • pharynx.

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  • The authors thank Timothy Phelps, M.S., A.M.I., Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, for his original medical illustrations.