Metoclopramide: a review of its pharmacological properties and clinical use

R M PinderG S Avery


Metoclopramide, 4-amino-5-chloro-2-methoxy-N-(2-diethyl-aminoethyl) benzamide, is advocated for use in gastro-intestinal diagnostics, and in treating various types of vomiting and a variety of functional and organic gastro-intestinal disorders. Published data have indicated that metoclopramide assists radiological identification of lesions in the small intestine, facilitates duodenal intubation and small intestine biopsy, and eases emergency endoscopy in upper gastro-intestinal haemorrhage. Metoclopramide reduces post-operative vomiting and radiation sickness, and ameliorates some types of drug-induced vomiting. It may provide symptomatic relief in dyspepsia and possibly in vertigo, reflux oesophagitis and hiccups, but further controlled trials are needed to confirm the efficacy of metoclopramide in these proposed areas of use. It promotes gastric emptying prior to anaesthesia. Its effects in healing gastric ulcer and preventing relapse of duodenal ulcer remain unproven. Side-effects are few and transient, though alarming extrapyramidal reactions can occur in a small proportion of patients receiving therapeutic doses but more usually following excessive doses in young subjects. They respond rapidly to withdrawal of the drug.


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