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Droperidol vs. prochlorperazine for benign headaches in the emergency department.

Author(s): Miner JR, Fish SJ, Smith SW, Biros MH

Affiliation(s): Department of Emergency Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55415, USA. jimminer@hotmail.com

Publication date & source: 2001-09, Acad Emerg Med., 8(9):873-9.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

OBJECTIVE: To compare the efficacy of droperidol with that of prochlorperazine for the treatment of benign headaches in emergency department (ED) patients. METHODS: Prospective, randomized clinical trial in an urban ED. Patients were given either droperidol, 5 mg intramuscular (IM) or 2.5 mg intravenous (IV), or prochlorperazine, 10 mg IM or 10 mg IV. Measurements included side effects and the patient's pain perception as measured on a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) at baseline, 30, and 60 minutes after the medication was given. Data were analyzed using chi-square, two-tailed t-tests, and two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) when appropriate. RESULTS: During an eight-month period, 168 patients were enrolled. Eighty-two (48.8%) of the patients received droperidol; 86 (51.2%) received prochlorperazine. In the droperidol group, 49 (59.6%) received IM administration and 33 (40.4%) IV. In the prochlorperazine group, 57 (66.3%) received IM administration and 29 (33.7%) IV. Sixty minutes after the medication, the mean decrease in the VAS scores was 81.4% for droperidol and 66.9% for prochlorperazine (p = 0.001). At 30 minutes, 60.9% of the patients receiving droperidol and 44.2% of the patients receiving prochlorperazine had obtained at least a 50% reduction in their VAS scores (p = 0.09). At 60 minutes, 90.2% of the patients receiving droperidol and 68.6% of the patients receiving prochlorperazine had at least a 50% reduction in their VAS scores (p = 0.017). No difference between IM dosing and IV dosing was detected. Side effects, including dystonia, akathisia, and decreased level of consciousness, were seen in 15.2% of the patients receiving droperidol and 9.61% of the patients receiving prochlorperazine. No significant or persisting morbidity was detected. CONCLUSIONS: Droperidol was more effective than prochlorperazine in relieving pain associated with benign headaches.

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