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Flavored anesthetic lozenge versus Xylocaine spray used as topical pharyngeal anesthesia for unsedated esophagogastroduodenoscopy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial



The use of Xylocaine spray has been the common practice in many endoscopy centers, but scientific evidence is not conclusive on its superiority over other forms of topical anesthesia. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of Xylocaine spray as a topical pharyngeal anesthesia for upper endoscopy and that of anesthetic lozenges with a characteristic flavor.


A randomized placebo-controlled trial was performed in a single endoscopy center. For this study, 191 consecutive patients ages 18 to 70 undergoing outpatient esophagogastroduodenoscopy were randomized before the procedure into either a spray group (10% Xylocaine pump spray plus plain Strepsils) or a lozenge group (Strepsils Dual Action anesthetic lozenge plus distilled water spray). The primary outcome was the patient tolerance score, calculated according to the taste of the anesthetic agent, the intensity of numbness, the amount of cough or gag, and the degree of discomfort at esophageal intubation. The secondary outcomes included difficulty of esophageal intubation and the patients’ and endoscopists’ satisfaction score for the procedure.


Randomization assigned 97 patients to the lozenge group and 94 patients to the spray group. The demographic data were similar in the two groups. The spray group had a significantly higher patient tolerance score, a greater intensity of numbness, less gag reflex, and less discomfort than the lozenge group. The lozenge group had a better taste than the spray group. The difficulty of esophageal intubation and the patients’ and endoscopists’ satisfaction were comparable between the two groups.


Topical Xylocaine spray is superior to the flavored anesthetic lozenge as a topical pharyngeal anesthesia in unsedated esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

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Drs. Canon K.O. Chan, K.L. Fok, and C.M. Poon have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Correspondence to Canon K. O. Chan.

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Chan, C.K.O., Fok, K.L. & Poon, C.M. Flavored anesthetic lozenge versus Xylocaine spray used as topical pharyngeal anesthesia for unsedated esophagogastroduodenoscopy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Surg Endosc 24, 897–901 (2010).

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  • Anesthetic lozenge
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy
  • Topical pharyngeal anesthesia
  • Xylocaine spray