Efficacy of ondansetron and prochlorperazine for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting after total hip replacement or total knee replacement procedures: a randomized, double-blind, comparative trial

Arch Intern Med. 1998 Oct 26;158(19):2124-8. doi: 10.1001/archinte.158.19.2124.


Background: Limited data are available on the efficacy of ondansetron hydrochloride compared with prochlorperazine maleate for the treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).

Objective: To evaluate the comparative efficacy of ondansetron and prochlorperazine for the prophylaxis of PONV in patients undergoing total hip replacement or total knee replacement procedures.

Methods: A randomized, double-blind, comparative trial was conducted at a tertiary care, university hospital. Seventy-eight patients undergoing elective total hip or total knee replacement procedures received a single dose of ondansetron hydrochloride (n = 37), 4 mg intravenously, or prochlorperazine maleate (n = 41), 10 mg intramuscularly, at the end of the surgical procedure. Rescue therapy was administered every 4 hours as needed during the initial 48 hours. Primary outcome measures were the incidences and severity of PONV. Secondary outcome measures included the number of rescue antiemetic doses required, number of physical therapy cancellations because of PONV, length of hospital stay, and cost of antiemetic agents administered.

Results: The incidence of nausea was significantly greater in the ondansetron group compared with the prochlorperazine group (81% vs 56%; odds ratio, 3.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-9.4) as was the severity of nausea (P = .04). Multivariate analysis identified administration of ondansetron, history of PONV, obesity, and female sex as risk factors for a nausea event. The incidence of vomiting tended to be greater in the ondansetron group (49% vs 32%; odds ratio, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.8-5.0). The need for rescue antiemetic therapy was also greater in the ondansetron group (46% vs 27%; odds ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 0.9-6.0). The mean antiemetic drug cost per patient was significantly greater for the ondansetron group ($47.56 vs $2.47; P<.001). However, the proportion of patients who were unable to participate in physical therapy because of PONV and the median length of hospital stay were similar in both groups.

Conclusion: Prochlorperazine is associated with superior efficacy and significant cost savings compared with ondansetron for the prevention of PONV in patients undergoing total hip and total knee replacement procedures.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiemetics / economics
  • Antiemetics / therapeutic use*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ondansetron / economics
  • Ondansetron / therapeutic use*
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / economics
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / etiology
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / prevention & control*
  • Prochlorperazine / economics
  • Prochlorperazine / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


  • Antiemetics
  • Ondansetron
  • Prochlorperazine