UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: The Return of Droperidol

Keywords: droperidol (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/7/2019 by Ashley Martinelli (Updated: 12/7/2019)
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Droperidol is a butyrophenone with primary action as a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist.  Historically, it has been used to treat a variety of conditions from nausea and headaches to acute agitation.  In 2001, the FDA issued a black box warning for risk of cardiac arrhythmias. Following this warning, droperidol was on national shortage for several years, further limiting its use.

Several months ago, droperidol returned to the US market and is available at some institutions. Below is a refresher on dosing and monitoring.  Similar to haloperidol, droperidol can cause extrapyramidal symptoms. Consider pre-treatment with diphenhydramine.

Dosing Recommendations:

Nausea and vomitting: 1.25 mg IV

Headache: 2.5 mg IV, 5 mg IM

Acute agitation: 5mg IM/IV

QTc prolongation is still a concern, especially at higher doses. If using doses > 2.5mg, or using repeated doses, obtain an ECG to ensure safe use of this medication. If the QTc is greater than 440 msec for males or 450 msec for females, droperidol is not recommended.  There is little data regarding the risk with lower doses. Utilize clinical judgement and assess patient risk factors.

References

Perkins J, et al. American Academy of Emergency Medicine position statement: Safety of droperidol use in the emergency department. J Emerg Med. 2014;49(1): 91-97.