Droperidol Use in the Emergency Department: A Clinical Review

Link to article at PubMed

J Emerg Med. 2023 Mar 14:S0736-4679(22)00790-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2022.12.012. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Droperidol is a butyrophenone, with antiemetic, sedative, anxiolytic, and analgesic properties. Although droperidol was once widely used in both emergency and perioperative settings, use of the medication declined rapidly after a 2001 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) boxed warning called the medication's safety into question.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this clinical review was to provide evidence-based answers to questions about droperidol's safety and to examine its efficacy in its various clinical indications.

DISCUSSION: Droperidol is an effective sedative, anxiolytic, analgesic, and antiemetic medication. As a sedative, when compared with haloperidol, droperidol has faster onset, as well as greater efficacy, in patients experiencing acute psychosis, with no increase in adverse events. As an antiemetic, droperidol has been found to have equal or greater efficacy in reducing nausea and vomiting than ondansetron and metoclopramide, with similar adverse effects and the added effect of reducing the need for rescue analgesia in these patients. As an analgesic, droperidol is effective for migraines and has opioid-sparing effects when used to treat abdominal pain. Droperidol is a particularly useful adjunct in patients who are opioid-tolerant, whose pain is often difficulty to manage adequately.

CONCLUSIONS: Droperidol seems to be effective and safe, despite the boxed warning issued by the FDA. Droperidol is a powerful antiemetic, sedative, anxiolytic, antimigraine, and adjuvant to opioid analgesia and does not require routine screening with electrocardiography when used in low doses in otherwise healthy patients before administration in the emergency department.

PMID:36925442 | DOI:10.1016/j.jemermed.2022.12.012

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