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Can J Anaesth. 2000 Jun;47(6):537-51.

Efficacy, dose-response, and adverse effects of droperidol for prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting.

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Département APSIC, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, Switzerland.



To estimate the efficacy and harm produced by droperidol in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).


Systematic search (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane library, hand-searching, bibliographies, all languages, up to May 1999) for randomised comparisons of droperidol with placebo in surgical patients. Relevant end points were prevention of early PONV (up to six hours postoperatively), and late PONV (24 hr), and adverse effects. Combined data were analysed using relative risk and NNT.


In 76 trials, 5,351 patients received 24 different regimens of droperidol. The average incidence of early and late PONV in controls was 34% and 51%, respectively. Droperidol was more efficacious than placebo in preventing PONV. In adults, the anti-nausea effect was short-lived, and there was no dose-responsiveness; with 0.25 to 0.30 mg the number-needed-to-treat (NNT) to prevent early nausea was 5. For both early and late anti-vomiting efficacy there was dose-responsiveness; best efficacy was with 1.5 mg to 2.5 mg (NNT, 7). In children, there was dose-responsiveness; best efficacy was with 75 microg x kg(-1) (NNT to prevent early and late vomiting, 4). Two children had extrapyramidal symptoms with droperidol (NNT in children, 91; in any patient, 408). There was dose-responsiveness for sedation and drowsiness (with 2.5 mg the NNT was 7.8). Droperidol prevented postoperative headache (NNT, -25).


Droperidol is anti-emetic in the surgical setting. The effect on nausea is short-lived but more pronounced than the effect on vomiting. Sedation and drowsiness are dose-dependent, extrapyramidal symptoms are rare, and there is a protective effect against headache.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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