The Effect of Preoperative Gabapentin on Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting: A Meta-Analysis

Grant, Michael C. MD; Lee, HeeWon MD; Page, Andrew J. MD; Hobson, Deborah BSN; Wick, Elizabeth MD; Wu, Christopher L. MD

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001120
Ambulatory Anesthesiology and Perioperative Management: Research Report

BACKGROUND: Preoperative gabapentin has been shown to improve postoperative pain and limit reliance on opioid analgesia. On the basis of an alternative mechanism, our group investigated the ability of preoperative gabapentin to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).

METHODS: We performed a meta-analysis of trials that reported outcomes on the effect of preoperative gabapentin on PONV end points in patients undergoing general anesthesia. In our primary analysis, we calculated the pooled antiemetic effects of preoperative gabapentin in studies with PONV as the primary end point. In our secondary analysis, we calculated the pooled effects in trials involving preoperative gabapentin that reported on the side effects, nausea and vomiting.

RESULTS: Among the trials designed with PONV as a primary end point (8 trials; n = 838), preoperative gabapentin was associated with a significant reduction in PONV (risk ratio [RR] = 0.60; 99% confidence interval [CI], 0.50–0.72; P < 0.0001), nausea (RR = 0.34; 99% CI, 0.20–0.56; P < 0.0001), and vomiting (RR = 0.34; 99% CI, 0.19–0.61; P = 0.0002) at 24 hours. Among all included trials (44 trials; n = 3489) that reported on the side effects, nausea and vomiting, similar reductions were noted in PONV with preoperative gabapentin administration. Subgroup analysis of trials excluding repeat dosing, thiopental induction, and nitrous oxide maintenance and including high-risk surgery resulted in similar PONV efficacy. Preoperative gabapentin is also associated with significantly increased rates of postoperative sedation (RR = 1.22; 95% CI, 1.02–1.47; P = 0.03) compared with control.

CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative gabapentin is associated with a significant reduction in PONV among studies designed to investigate this end point. Preoperative gabapentin should be considered not only as part of a multimodal approach to postoperative analgesia, but also for prevention of PONV.

From the Department of Anesthesiology, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland.

Accepted for publication November 2, 2015.

Funding: None.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Michael C. Grant, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, 1800 Orleans St., Baltimore, MD 21287. Address e-mail to

© 2016 International Anesthesia Research Society