Postoperative nausea and vomiting and opioid-induced nausea and vomiting: Guidelines for prevention and treatment

Servicio de Anestesia y Cuidados Criticos, Hospital Universitario Fundación Alcorcón, Alcorcón, Madrid.
Revista espanola de anestesiologia y reanimacion 10/2010; 57(8):508-24.
Source: PubMed


Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) causes patient discomfort, lowers patient satisfaction, and increases care requirements. Opioid-induced nausea and vomiting (OINV) may also occur if opioids are used to treat postoperative pain. These guidelines aim to provide recommendations for the prevention and treatment of both problems. A working group was established in accordance with the charter of the Sociedad Española de Anestesiología y Reanimación. The group undertook the critical appraisal of articles relevant to the management of PONV and OINV in adults and children early and late in the perioperative period. Discussions led to recommendations, summarized as follows: 1) Risk for PONV should be assessed in all patients undergoing surgery; 2 easy-to-use scales are useful for risk assessment: the Apfel scale for adults and the Eberhart scale for children. 2) Measures to reduce baseline risk should be used for adults at moderate or high risk and all children. 3) Pharmacologic prophylaxis with 1 drug is useful for patients at low risk (Apfel or Eberhart 1) who are to receive general anesthesia; patients with higher levels of risk should receive prophylaxis with 2 or more drugs and baseline risk should be reduced (multimodal approach). 4) Dexamethasone, droperidol, and ondansetron (or other setrons) have similar levels of efficacy; drug choice should be made based on individual patient factors. 5) The drug prescribed for treating PONV should preferably be different from the one used for prophylaxis; ondansetron is the most effective drug for treating PONV. 6) Risk for PONV should be assessed before discharge after outpatient surgery or on the ward for hospitalized patients; there is no evidence that late preventive strategies are effective. 7) The drug of choice for preventing OINV is droperidol.

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