Keywords: cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (PubMed Search)
Bottom Line: With the increasing acceptance and legalization of marijuana and its derivatives, emergency departments have seen an increase in patients with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). In this patient population, when other pathologies have been excluded, consider droperidol (0.625 mg – 2.5 mg) or haloperidol (0.05 mg/kg or 0.1 mg/kg) for management of symptoms.
Two separate articles were reviewed for this pearl. One is a systematic review of existing literature, and the other is a randomized controlled trial.
The systematic review examined 17 existing studies, including case reports, RCTs, retrospective studies, and other systematic reviews. This included adults aged 18-85 who were using recreational or medicinal cannabinoids. There was a consensus that cessation of cannabinoid use is the best way to alleviate symptoms of CHS. Other options discussed include:
As mentioned above, the HaVOC study examined various doses of haloperidol versus odansetron. This randomized controlled trial was triple blinded and had three groups: haloperidol 0.05 mg/kg or 0.1 mg/kg or odansetron 8 mg IV. The outcome of interest was reduction in abdominal pain and nausea at two hours after treatment. Either dose of haloperidol was found to be superior to odansetron, with improvements in pain and nausea (54% versus 29%; 95% CI -16% to 59%), and less use of rescue antiemetics (31% versus 59%, with 95% CI -61% to 13%). Haloperidol also resulted in shorter ED length of stay (3.1 h vs 5.6 h, 95% CI 0.1-5.0 h, p=0.03). However, 2 patients in the high dose haloperidol group had dystonic reactions precipitating return visits. The study does not specifically discuss differences in outcomes between the high and lower dose haloperidol groups.
Neither paper discussed the best alternatives when QTc prolongation is of concern. Clinicians should use their best judgment and the available information when deciding on a treatment option.
Senderovich H, Patel P, Jimenez Lopez B, Waicus S. A Systematic Review on Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome and Its Management Options. Med Princ Pract. 2022;31(1):29-38. doi:10.1159/000520417
Ruberto AJ, Sivilotti MLA, Forrester S, Hall AK, Crawford FM, Day AG. Intravenous Haloperidol Versus Ondansetron for Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (HaVOC): A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Ann Emerg Med. 2021;77(6):613-619. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2020.08.021