Open Access Research article

Children's vomiting following posterior fossa surgery: A retrospective study

Susan M Neufeld1*, Christine V Newburn-Cook1, Donald Schopflocher1, Belinda Dundon2, Herta Yu2 and Jane E Drummond1

  • * Corresponding author: Susan M Neufeld

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

2 Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Nursing 2009, 8:7  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-8-7

Published: 13 July 2009



Nausea and vomiting is a problem for children after neurosurgery and those requiring posterior fossa procedures appear to have a high incidence. This clinical observation has not been quantified nor have risk factors unique to this group of children been elucidated.


A six year retrospective chart audit at two Canadian children's hospitals was conducted. The incidence of nausea and vomiting was extracted. Hierarchical multivariable logistic regression was used to quantify risk and protective factors at 120 hours after surgery and early vs. late vomiting.


The incidence of vomiting over a ten day postoperative period was 76.7%. Documented vomiting ranged from single events to greater than 20 over the same period. In the final multivariable model: adolescents (age 12 to <17) were less likely to vomit by 120 hours after surgery than other age groups; those who received desflurane, when compared to all other volatile anesthetics, were more likely to vomit, yet the use of ondansetron with desflurane decre kelihood. Children who had intraoperative ondansetron were more likely to vomit in the final multivariable model (perhaps because of its use, in the clinical judgment of the anesthesiologist, for children considered at risk). Children who started vomiting in the first 24 hours were more likely to be school age (groups 4 to <7 and 7 to <12) and receive desflurane. Nausea was not well documented and was therefore not analyzed.


The incidence of vomiting in children after posterior fossa surgery is sufficient to consider all children requiring these procedures to be at high risk for POV. Nausea requires better assessment and documentation.