Annals of Emergency Medicine

Oral Ondansetron Administration to Nondehydrated Children With Diarrhea and Associated Vomiting in Emergency Departments in Pakistan: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, May 2018, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians meeting, May 2018, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Stephen B. Freedman, MDCM,

Study objective

We determine whether single-dose oral ondansetron administration to children with vomiting as a result of acute gastroenteritis without dehydration reduces administration of intravenous fluid rehydration.


In this 2-hospital, double-blind, placebo-controlled, emergency department–based, randomized trial conducted in Karachi Pakistan, we recruited children aged 0.5 to 5.0 years, without dehydration, who had diarrhea and greater than or equal to 1 episode of vomiting within 4 hours of arrival. Patients were randomly assigned (1:1), through an Internet-based randomization service using a stratified variable-block randomization scheme, to single-dose oral ondansetron or placebo. The primary endpoint was intravenous rehydration (administration of ≥20 mL/kg of an isotonic fluid during 4 hours) within 72 hours of randomization.


Participant median age was 15 months (interquartile range 10 to 26) and 59.4% (372/626) were male patients. Intravenous rehydration use was 12.1% (38/314) and 11.9% (37/312) in the placebo and ondansetron groups, respectively (odds ratio 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60 to 1.61; difference 0.2%; 95% CI of the difference –4.9% to 5.4%). Bolus fluid administration occurred within 72 hours of randomization in 10.8% (34/314) and 10.3% (27/312) of children administered placebo and ondansetron, respectively (odds ratio 0.95; 95% CI 0.56 to 1.59). A multivariable regression model fitted with treatment group and adjusted for antiemetic administration, antibiotics, zinc prerandomization, and vomiting frequency prerandomization yielded similar results (odds ratio 0.91; 95% CI 0.55 to 1.53). There was no interaction between treatment group and age, greater than or equal to 3 stools in the preceding 24 hours, or greater than or equal to 3 vomiting episodes in the preceding 24 hours.


Oral administration of a single dose of ondansetron did not result in a reduction in intravenous rehydration use. In children without dehydration, ondansetron does not improve clinical outcomes.

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