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Br J Anaesth. 1999 Jul;83(1):104-17.

Postoperative nausea and vomiting in paediatric patients.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA, USA.


The past decade has witnessed the introduction of several significant innovations to combat POV, particularly the introduction of serotonin antagonists and the use of combinations of drugs for analgesia and control of POV. Based on current knowledge, the anaesthetic plan for a patient with a previous history of severe PONV and undergoing a procedure known to be associated with a high incidence of this problem should include premedication with a benzodiazepine and/or clonidine and the preferential use of regional anaesthetic techniques. If general anaesthesia is essential, anaesthetists should consider the use of propofol for both induction and maintenance of anaesthesia, together with avoidance of nitrous oxide, opioids and neuromuscular antagonists. Pain control is extremely important, and a peripheral regional block should be used if possible. A combination of prophylactic antiemetics such as dexamethasone, a 5-HT3 antagonist and an antiemetic of a different class (e.g. perphenazine or dimenhydrinate) should be administered. Non-pharmacological measures such as acupressure and suggestion should also be considered, together with nursing measures to avoid sudden movement from one position to another during the postoperative period. A quiet environment, adequate i.v. fluids and not forcing the patient to drink before discharge all contribute to decreased emesis. It is possible that the advent of a new class of antiemetic agents, the NKI antagonists, may have major effects on the incidence of this complication. Drugs in this group differ from other currently available drugs in having the ability to effectively block the emetic response to many stimuli in experimental animals. Postoperative vomiting remains a significant problem, resulting in patient suffering and prolonged recovery from anaesthesia. Our aim should be to eliminate this complication in all children who require surgery. It should not be considered merely as the 'big, little problem'.

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