Purpose of review
Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) has a high incidence in children and requires prophylactic and therapeutic strategies.
PONV can be reduced by the avoidance of nitrous oxide, volatile anesthetics, and the reduction of postoperative opioids. The use of dexamethasone, 5-HT3 antagonists, or droperidol alone is potent, but combinations are even more effective to reduce PONV. Droperidol has a Food and Drug Administration warning. Hence, dexamethasone and 5-HT3 antagonists should be preferred as prophylactic drugs. It is further reasonable to adapt PONV prophylaxis to different risk levels. Prolonged surgery time, inpatients, types of surgery (e.g. strabismus and ear–nose–throat surgery), and patients with PONV in history should be treated as high risk, whereas short procedures and outpatients are to be treated as low risk.
Concluding from the existing guidelines and data on the handling of PONV in children at least 3 years, the following recommendations are given: outpatients undergoing small procedures should receive a single prophylaxis, outpatients at high risk a double prophylaxis, inpatients with surgery time of more than 30 min and use of postoperative opioids should get double prophylaxis, and inpatients receiving a high-risk surgical procedure or with other risk factors a triple prophylaxis (two drugs and total intravenous anesthesia). Dimenhydrinate can be used as a second choice, whereas droperidol and metoclopramide can only be recommended as rescue therapy.