BACKGROUND: Vomiting in children with acute gastroenteritis is a common symptom, and it is considered to be the main cause of failure of oral rehydration therapy.
AIM: To systematically update evidence on the effects of ondansetron (5-HT3 serotonin antagonist) for vomiting in children with acute gastroenteritis.
METHODS: The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched up to April 2016, with no language restrictions, for randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Reference lists of reviews and included studies were examined.
RESULTS: Ten RCTs involving 1215 participants were included. Treatment with ondansetron compared with placebo increased the chance for vomiting cessation up to 1 h after drug administration, relative risk, RR, 1.49 (95% confidence interval 1.17-1.89), but there was no difference between the groups after 4, 24 and 48 h. Treatment with ondansetron compared with placebo reduced the risk of failure of oral rehydration therapy, RR 0.5 (0.37-0.69), increased the intake of oral rehydration solution in 1 h and 4 h, mean difference: 43 mL/1 h (15.5-70.5), and 91 mL/4 h (35-147), respectively, reduced the risk of hospitalisation, RR 0.53 (0.29-0.97), and reduced the need for intravenous rehydration, RR 0.45 (0.31-0.63); however, it had no effect on the need for return visits to the emergency department, RR 1.14 (0.72-1.8). Adverse effects were similar in both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Compared with placebo, ondansetron administration for vomiting in children with acute gastroenteritis can improve the efficacy of oral rehydration therapy.