Objective: To compare the effectiveness of ondansetron and prochlorperazine to treat vomiting. Secondary objectives were the effectiveness of ondansetron and prochlorperazine to treat nausea and their tolerability.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, active controlled, double-blinded study. Using a convenience sample, patients were randomized to either intravenous ondansetron 4mg (n=32) or prochlorperazine 10mg (n=32). The primary outcome was the percentage of patients with vomiting at 0-30, 31-60, and 61-120 minutes after the administration of ondansetron or prochlorperazine. Secondary outcomes were nausea assessed by a visual analog scale (VAS) at baseline, 0-30, 31-60, and 61-120 minutes after the administration of ondansetron or prochlorperazine and the percentage of patients with adverse effects (sedation, headache, akathisia, dystonia) to either drug. We performed statistical analyses on the VAS scales at each time point and did a subgroup analysis to examine if nausea scores were affected if the patient had vomited at baseline.
Results: The primary identified cause for nausea and vomiting was flu-like illness or gastroenteritis (19%). The number of patients experiencing breakthrough vomiting at 0-30, 31-60, and 61-120 minutes was similar between groups for these time periods; however, more patients receiving ondansetron experienced vomiting overall (7 [22%] vs. 2[3.2%] patients, p=not significant). Nausea scores at baseline and 0-30 minutes were severe and similar between groups; however, at 31-60 and 61-120 minutes, patients receiving prochlorperazine had better control of nausea (24.9 vs. 43.7 mm, p=0.03; 16.8 vs. 34.3 mm, p=0.05). Sedation scores were similar between groups. There were no cases of extrapyramidal symptoms as assessed by the treating physician and there were four cases of akathisia (prochlorperazine=3 [9%], ondansetron=1[3%]).
Conclusion: Prochlorperazine and ondansetron appear to be equally effective at treating vomiting in the emergency department.