Efficacy of ephedrine in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting

Anesth Analg. 1991 Jan;72(1):58-61. doi: 10.1213/00000539-199101000-00010.


Although reported in the aerospace literature and anecdotally by anesthesiologists, the putative antiemetic effect of ephedrine remains unquantitated. We therefore prospectively studied ephedrine as an antiemetic agent in the perioperative setting in 97 patients undergoing general anesthesia for outpatient gynecologic laparoscopy. Patients were assigned in a double-blind randomized fashion to receive a standardized general anesthetic followed by an intramuscular dose of either ephedrine (0.5 mg/kg), droperidol (0.04 mg/kg), or saline before the conclusion of surgery. Nausea, retching, or vomiting, as well as the degree of sedation and discharge times, were assessed in the recovery room and for 24 h postoperatively. Ephedrine was found to have a significantly antiemetic effect (P less than 0.05) when compared with placebo and an antiemetic effect similar to that of droperidol. Sedation scores were also significantly less in the ephedrine group than in both placebo and droperidol groups. Finally, variations in mean arterial blood pressure among the three groups were not statistically significant. We conclude that ephedrine is an effective antiemetic agent with minimal sedative side effects in patients undergoing outpatient laparoscopy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Droperidol / therapeutic use
  • Ephedrine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Nausea / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vomiting / prevention & control*


  • Ephedrine
  • Droperidol