Is routine sedation or topical pharyngeal anesthesia beneficial during upper endoscopy?

Gastrointest Endosc. 2004 Nov;60(5):686-94. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5107(04)02048-6.


Background: Upper endoscopy is an invasive procedure. However, the benefits of routinely administered sedative medication or topical pharyngeal anesthesic are controversial. The aim of this study was to clarify their effects on patient tolerance and difficulty of upper endoscopy.

Methods: A total of 252 patients scheduled for diagnostic upper endoscopy were randomly assigned to 4 groups: (1) sedation with midazolam and placebo pharyngeal spray (midazolam group), (2) placebo sedation and lidocaine pharyngeal spray (lidocaine group), (3) placebo sedation and placebo pharyngeal spray (placebo group), and (4) no intravenous cannula/pharyngeal spray (control group). The endoscopist and the patient assessed the procedure immediately after the examination. Another questionnaire was sent to the patients 2 weeks later.

Results: Patients in the midazolam group rated the examination easier and less uncomfortable compared with those in the other groups. The differences were especially evident in the questionnaires completed 2 weeks after the examination ( p < 0.001). Lidocaine did not significantly improve patient tolerance. However, endoscopists found the procedure easier in patients in the lidocaine group compared with the midazolam ( p < 0.01) and control groups ( p < 0.01) but not the placebo group.

Conclusions: Routine administration of midazolam for sedation increased patient tolerance for upper endoscopy. However, endoscopists found intubation to be more difficult in sedated vs. non-sedated patients. Topical pharyngeal anesthesia did not enhance patient tolerance, but it did make upper endoscopy technically easier compared with endoscopy in patients sedated with midazolam without topical pharyngeal anesthesia, and in patients who had no sedation or pharyngeal anesthesia, but not in patients who received placebo sedation and placebo pharyngeal anesthesia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Male
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Premedication / statistics & numerical data*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Midazolam