Drugs given to stop nausea and vomiting after surgery help only a few people

Between 10 - 28% of people benefit from taking an anti-emetic drug to prevent nausea or vomiting after surgery - this means that if everyone was given the drug the majority of patients would be exposed to the risk of side-effects without gaining any benefit.

A Cochrane Review that included 737 studies involving 103,237 participants concludes that most patients given a drug to prevent nausea or vomiting after surgery will not benefit from it. While 10% to 28% of people benefit, between 90% and 72% don't.

But between 1% and 5% of experience side-effects that can include headache, sedation, or dry mouth.

"A clinician and patient together need to balance the benefits and risks before giving anti-emetics," says lead Review Author Dr John Carlisle, who is a consultant anaesthetist and intensivist at Torbay Hospital, in Torquay, UK.

Of the 60 drugs considered, nine were most effective: droperidol, metoclopramide, ondansetron, tropisetron, dolasetron, dexamethasone, cyclizine, ramosetron and granisetron. There was no evidence of difference between these drugs.

http://www.thecochranelibrary.com

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