The role of cisapride in the treatment of pediatric gastroesophageal reflux. The European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1999 May;28(5):518-28. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199905000-00017.


Background: Cisapride is a gastrointestinal prokinetic agent that is used worldwide in the treatment of gastrointestinal motility-related disorders in premature infants, full-term infants, and children. Efficacy data suggest that it is the most effective commercially available prokinetic drug.

Methods: Because of recent concerns about safety, a critical and in-depth analysis of all reported adverse events was performed and resulted in the conclusions and recommendations that follow.

Results: Cisapride should only be administered to patients in whom the use of prokinetics is justified according to current medical knowledge. If cisapride is given to pediatric patients who can be considered healthy except for their gastrointestinal motility disorder, and the maximum dose does not exceed 0.8 mg/kg per day in 3 to 4 administrations of 0.2 mg/kg (not exceeding 40 mg/d), no special safety procedures regarding potential cardiac adverse events are recommended. However, if cisapride is prescribed for patients who are known to be or are suspected of being at increased risk for drug-associated increases in QTc interval, certain precautions are advisable. Such patients include those:(1) with a previous history of cardiac dysrhythmias, (2) receiving drugs known to inhibit the metabolism of cisapride and/or adversely affect ventricular repolarisation, (3) with immaturity and/or disease causing reduced cytochrome P450 3A4 activity, or (4) with electrolyte disturbances. In such patients, ECG monitoring to quantitate the QTc interval should be used before initiation of therapy and after 3 days of treatment to ascertain whether a cisapride-induced cardiac adverse effect is present.

Conclusions: With rare exceptions, the total daily dose of cisapride should not exceed 0.8 mg/kg divided into 3 or 4 approximately equally spaced doses. If higher doses than this are given, the precautions above are advisable. In any patient in whom a prolonged QTc interval is found, the dose of cisapride should be reduced or the drug discontinued until the ECG normalizes. If the QTc interval returns to normal after withdrawal of cisapride, and the administration of cisapride is considered to be justified because of its efficacy and absence of alternative treatment options, cisapride can be restarted at half dose with control of the QTc interval. Unfortunately, at present, normal ranges of QTc interval in children are unknown. However, a critical analysis of the literature suggests that a duration of less than 450 milliseconds can be considered to be within the normal range and greater than 470 milliseconds as outside it.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / chemically induced
  • Cisapride / administration & dosage
  • Cisapride / adverse effects
  • Cisapride / therapeutic use*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Drug Interactions
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cisapride