New guidelines developed for postoperative nausea, vomiting

November 2, 2006

New guidelines, one set for adults and one for children, have been developed to help physicians reduce the occurrence of postoperative nausea and vomiting.

New guidelines, one set for adults and one for children, have been developed to help physicians reduce the occurrence of postoperative nausea and vomiting.

The guidelines incorporate the use of antiemetics drugs, which are given to patients prior to surgery to prevent nausea and vomiting. The panel of experts, led by Duke University Medical Center anesthesiologist Tong J. Gan, MD, found that combining different classes of antiemetics added to their effectiveness.

The guidelines also provide new information designed to help physicians identify which patients are at the greatest risk for nausea and vomiting, and therefore should receive antiemetics prior to surgery.

“There are more than 35 million surgical procedures performed each year in the United States, so this is an extremely important health care issue,” Dr. Gan said. “It is also an issue that most physicians do not take seriously enough; they see it as a short-term nuisance that will soon pass. However, studies have shown that nausea and vomiting after surgery is the major factor influencing whether or not patients are satisfied with their surgery.”

The guidelines were presented recently at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting in Chicago.