Effect of Low-dose Droperidol on the QT Interval during and after General Anesthesia: A Placebo-controlled Study


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Abstract

Background:Since the effects of antiemetic doses of droperidol on the QT interval have not been previously studied, the authors designed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the intraoperative and postoperative effects of small-dose droperidol (0.625 and 1.25 mg intravenous) on the QT interval when used for antiemetic prophylaxis during general anesthesia.Methods:One hundred twenty outpatients undergoing otolaryngologic procedures with a standardized general anesthetic technique were enrolled in this study. After anesthetic induction and before the surgical incision, 60 patients were given either saline or 0.625 or 1.25 mg intravenous droperidol in a total volume of 2 ml. A standard electrocardiographic lead II was recorded immediately before and every minute after the injection of the study medication during a 10-min observation period. The QTc (QT interval corrected for heart rate) was evaluated from the recorded electrocardiographic strips. In 60 additional patients, a 12-lead electrocardiogram was obtained before and at specific intervals up to 2 h after surgery to assess the effects of droperidol and general anesthesia on the QTc. Any abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias during the operation or the subsequent 2-h monitoring interval were also noted.Results:Intravenous droperidol, 0.625 and 1.25 mg, prolonged the QT interval by an average of 15 ± 40 and 22 ± 41 ms, respectively, at 3–6 min after administration during general anesthesia, but these changes did not differ significantly from that seen with saline (12 ± 35 ms) (all values mean ± SD). There were no statistically significant differences among the three study groups in the number of patients with greater than 10% prolongation in QTc (vs. baseline). Although general anesthesia was associated with a 14- to 16-ms prolongation of the QTc interval in the early postoperative period, there was no evidence of droperidol-induced QTc prolongation after surgery. Finally, there were no ectopic heartbeats observed on any of the electrocardiographic rhythm strips or 12-lead recordings during the perioperative period.Conclusion:Use of a small dose of droperidol (0.625–1.25 mg intravenous) for antiemetic prophylaxis during general anesthesia was not associated with a statistically significant increase in the QTc interval compared with saline. More importantly, there was no evidence of any droperidol-induced QTc prolongation immediately after surgery.

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