Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting in Pediatric Patients

Paediatr Drugs. 2021 Jan;23(1):11-37. doi: 10.1007/s40272-020-00424-0. Epub 2020 Oct 27.


Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), postoperative vomiting (POV), post-discharge nausea and vomiting (PDNV), and opioid-induced nausea and vomiting (OINV) continue to be causes of pediatric morbidity, delay in discharge, and unplanned hospital admission. Research on the pathophysiology, risk assessment, and therapy for PDNV, OINV and pain therapy options in children has received increased attention. Multimodal pain management with the use of perioperative regional and opioid-sparing analgesia has helped decrease nausea and vomiting. Two common emetogenic surgical procedures in children are adenotonsillectomy and strabismus repair. Although PONV risk factors differ between adults and children, the approach to decrease baseline risk is similar. As PONV and POV are frequent in children, antiemetic prophylaxis should be considered for those at risk. A multimodal approach for antiemetic and pain therapy involves preoperative risk evaluation and stratification, antiemetic prophylaxis, and pain management with opioid-sparing medications and regional anesthesia. Useful antiemetics include dexamethasone and serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine-3 (5-HT3) receptor antagonists such as ondansetron. Multimodal combination prophylactic therapy using two or three antiemetics from different drug classes and propofol total intravenous anesthesia should be considered for children at high PONV risk. "Enhanced recovery after surgery" protocols include a multimodal approach with preoperative preparation, adequate intravenous fluid hydration, opioid-sparing analgesia, and prophylactic antiemetics. PONV guidelines and management algorithms help provide effective postoperative care for pediatric patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / etiology*
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / therapy*


  • Antiemetics