Prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting by metoclopramide combined with dexamethasone: randomised double blind multicentre trial

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To determine whether 10 mg, 25 mg, or 50 mg metoclopramide combined with 8 mg dexamethasone, given intraoperatively, is more effective in preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting than 8 mg dexamethasone alone, and to assess benefit in relation to adverse drug reactions.


Four-armed, parallel group, double blind, randomised controlled clinical trial.


Four clinics of a university hospital and four district hospitals in Germany.


3140 patients who received balanced or regional anaesthesia during surgery.

Main outcome measures

Postoperative nausea and vomiting within 24 hours of surgery (primary end point); occurrence of adverse reactions.


Cumulative incidences (95% confidence intervals) of postoperative nausea and vomiting were 23.1% (20.2% to 26.0%), 20.6% (17.8% to 23.4%), 17.2% (14.6% to 19.8%), and 14.5% (12.0% to 17.0%) for 0 mg, 10 mg, 25 mg, and 50 mg metoclopramide. In the secondary analysis, 25 mg and 50 mg metoclopramide were equally effective at preventing early nausea (0–12 hours), but only 50 mg reduced late nausea and vomiting ( > 12 hours). The most frequent adverse drug reactions were hypotension and tachycardia, with cumulative incidences of 8.8% (6.8% to 10.8%), 11.2% (9.0% to 13.4%), 12.9% (10.5% to 15.3%), and 17.9% (15.2% to 20.6%) for 0 mg, 10 mg, 25 mg, and 50 mg metoclopramide.


The addition of 50 mg metoclopramide to 8 mg dexamethasone (given intraoperatively) is an effective, safe, and cheap way to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting. A reduced dose of 25 mg metoclopramide intraoperatively, with additional postoperative prophylaxis in high risk patients, may be equally effective and cause fewer adverse drug reactions.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN31625370.

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