Risk Factors for Developing Postoperative Vomiting

Postoperative vomiting is a common occurrence in about 20 – 30% of the surgical patients and it may range from a mild nausea to a severe vomiting which can lead to serious consequences or to a prolonged hospital stay in certain instance. But, when looking at its incidence, it is rather difficult to assess who will be at a higher risk of developing postoperative vomiting and who will not as many factors seems to contribute in developing post op nausea and vomiting.

What are the consequences of post operative vomiting?

Although most instances of vomiting following surgery would be mild and should not lead to any significant alteration in the cause of recovery, in certain instances the effects would be more than just a passerby symptom which leads to several post op complications. These complications will depend on the patients susceptibility as well as the type of surgery along with what techniques were used for inducing anesthesia as well as to perform the surgery. Thus, some of the serious complications following postoperative vomiting include, aspiration of gastric content, dehiscence of the scar, aggravating the surgical wound, needing to remove sutures put across the jaw in facio-maxillary surgery…etc. Apart from these, severe vomiting may make the stay of a surgical patient prolonged as well.

What are the risk factors leading to such manifestations?

According to researchers, females tend to have a higher risk of developing post operative vomiting than their male counterparts. Furthermore, age seems to play a part in its occurrence as well and it is postulated that elderly will have a lesser risk of developing nausea and vomiting following surgery when compared with much younger counterparts.

At the same time, when proper pre and post operative precautions are not followed one may be at a higher risk of developing nausea and vomiting and these include, not adhering to expected duration of fasting before the surgery, starting of oral fluids and solids before the bowels obtain its effective functionality or mortility, having impacted feces or constipation before and after the surgery…etc.

Certain surgical procedures are also associated with higher risk of nausea and vomiting and these include, middle ear surgery, urological and gynecological surgery as well as surgeries performed to correct strabismus. Furthermore, surgeries involving the intestines, brain…etc would also have a higher risk of developing the same.

Along with these risk factors, the anesthetic agents and post operative medications will also be contributing to the development of post operative nausea and vomiting. Evidently, general anesthesia will be causing the most number of incidences and certain induction agents used for anesthesia such as nitrous oxide, opioid…etc will also make it more likely for a person to develop post operative vomiting.

Although these risk factors can be identified in clinical practice, certain other personal and procedural factors will also contribute to the development of this post operative manifestation and it is one of the areas which will require further research in order to arrive at a cure to completely abolish its manifestation for sure.