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Acad Emerg Med. 2001 Sep;8(9):873-9.

Droperidol vs. prochlorperazine for benign headaches in the emergency department.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55415, USA.



To compare the efficacy of droperidol with that of prochlorperazine for the treatment of benign headaches in emergency department (ED) patients.


Prospective, randomized clinical trial in an urban ED. Patients were given either droperidol, 5 mg intramuscular (IM) or 2.5 mg intravenous (IV), or prochlorperazine, 10 mg IM or 10 mg IV. Measurements included side effects and the patient's pain perception as measured on a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) at baseline, 30, and 60 minutes after the medication was given. Data were analyzed using chi-square, two-tailed t-tests, and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) when appropriate.


During an eight-month period, 168 patients were enrolled. Eighty-two (48.8%) of the patients received droperidol; 86 (51.2%) received prochlorperazine. In the droperidol group, 49 (59.6%) received IM administration and 33 (40.4%) IV. In the prochlorperazine group, 57 (66.3%) received IM administration and 29 (33.7%) IV. Sixty minutes after the medication, the mean decrease in the VAS scores was 81.4% for droperidol and 66.9% for prochlorperazine (p = 0.001). At 30 minutes, 60.9% of the patients receiving droperidol and 44.2% of the patients receiving prochlorperazine had obtained at least a 50% reduction in their VAS scores (p = 0.09). At 60 minutes, 90.2% of the patients receiving droperidol and 68.6% of the patients receiving prochlorperazine had at least a 50% reduction in their VAS scores (p = 0.017). No difference between IM dosing and IV dosing was detected. Side effects, including dystonia, akathisia, and decreased level of consciousness, were seen in 15.2% of the patients receiving droperidol and 9.61% of the patients receiving prochlorperazine. No significant or persisting morbidity was detected.


Droperidol was more effective than prochlorperazine in relieving pain associated with benign headaches.

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