Antiemetic Drug Shown Effective in Very Young Children

Susan Farley
Published Online: Saturday, January 1, 2005

A recent study has shown that an injection of the antiemetic ondansetron hydrochloride (Zofran) effectively reduces post-operative vomiting (POV) associated with general anesthesia in children 1 month to 2 years old. The prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 670 patients from ages 1 month to 24 months who underwent surgery under general anesthesia. Participants received either one 0.1 mg/kg intravenous dose of ondansetron hydrochloride or placebo, directly after receiving anesthesia and just before the start of surgery.

In the ondansetron group, only 11% experienced an episode of vomiting, received rescue antiemetic medication, or were eliminated from the study, compared to 28% of children in the placebo group. Results indicated that ondansetron reduced the need for rescue medication in the 24-hour assessment period. Adverse events among the ondansetron group included 3 cases of agitation, one case of aggression, one incidence of mild facial swelling, and one incidence of nonspecific swelling. Lead investigator Samia N. Khalil, MD, professor of pediatric anesthesia at the University of Texas Health Science Center, concluded, "Results of this study suggest that the incidence of POV in children younger than 2 years of age may be higher than previously believed."

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.

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