Management of postoperative nausea and vomiting in adults: current controversies

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2021 Dec 1;34(6):695-702. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000001063.


Purpose of review: Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) continue to plague the surgical patient population with an adverse impact on postoperative outcomes. The aim of this review is to critically assess current evidence for PONV management, including studies evaluating baseline risk reduction and antiemetic prophylaxis, to provide a pragmatic approach to prevention and treatment of PONV in routine clinical practice.

Recent findings: Multiple recent reviews and guidelines have been published on this topic with some limitations. In the current ERAS era, all patients irrespective of their PONV risk should receive two to three antiemetics for prophylaxis. Patients at a high risk of PONV [i.e. prior history of PONV, history of motion sickness, high opioid requirements after surgery (e.g. inability to use nonopioid analgesic techniques)] should receive three to four antiemetics for prophylaxis.

Summary: This review provides a practical approach to PONV prevention based on recent literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Antiemetics* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting* / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting* / prevention & control


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antiemetics