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Droperidol Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 27, 2024.

Applies to droperidol: injection solution.


Injection route (Solution)

Cases of QT prolongation and/or torsade de pointes, some fatal, have been reported in patients receiving droperidol at doses at or below recommended doses. All patients should undergo a 12-lead ECG prior to administration of droperidol to determine if a prolonged QT interval (i.e., QTc greater than 440 msec for males or 450 msec for females) is present. Do not administer droperidol if there is a prolonged QT interval. Droperidol is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected QT prolongation, including patients with congenital long QT syndrome. Administer droperidol with extreme caution to patients who may be at risk for development of prolonged QT syndrome, are over 65 years old, abuse alcohol, or when used concomitantly with benzodiazepines, volatile anesthetics, and IV opiates. ECG monitoring should be performed prior to treatment and continued for 2 to 3 hours after completing treatment to monitor for arrhythmias.

Serious side effects of Droperidol

Along with its needed effects, droperidol may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking droperidol:

More common

Less common

Incidence not known

Other side effects of Droperidol

Some side effects of droperidol may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common

Incidence not known

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to droperidol: compounding powder, injectable solution, intravenous solution.


Frequency not reported: Hypotension, irregular cardiac rhythm, mild or moderate tachycardia, QT prolongation, serious arrhythmias (e.g., torsades de pointes), ventricular tachycardia, cardiac arrest, death (some of these side effects occurred in patients with no known risk factors, and some were associated with droperidol doses at or below recommended doses)[Ref]

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Dysphoria, drowsiness, restlessness, hyperactivity, anxiety, hallucinations, dizziness, extrapyramidal symptoms, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, confusion, nervousness, paresthesia, somnolence, tremor, akathisia, oculogyric crisis, unexplained fever, alteration of consciousness, autonomic instability[Ref]

Unexplained fever, alteration of consciousness, extrapyramidal dysfunction, autonomic instability and elevated creatine kinase are all symptoms associated with neuroleptic agents. If these symptoms develop in patients receiving droperidol therapy, immediate discontinuation of the drug is warranted.

Extrapyramidal symptoms such as acute dystonia, parkinsonism, akathisia, and oculogyric crisis have been reported in patients receiving droperidol in doses as low as 0.65 mg. In addition, cases of akathisia have been reported in patients during epidural anesthesia.[Ref]


Frequency not reported: pharyngitis, rhinitis, bronchospasm, laryngospasm (reported as rare)[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Anaphylaxis (uncommon)[Ref]


Frequency not reported : Injection site pain[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Chills and/or shivering, tongue-swelling, sweating[Ref]


1. (2001) "Product Information. Inapsine (droperidol)." Janssen Pharmaceuticals

2. Vice President, Medical Affairs and Worldwide Drug Safety (2001) Important drug warning letter.

3. (2005) "Product Information. Droperidol (droperidol)." Abbott Pharmaceutical

4. Miyai N, Kawasaki T, Sugihara H, Kayo R (2006) "Coronary artery spasm as a cause of droperidol-induced ventricular fibrillation." Anesth Analg, 103, p. 1602-3

5. Ward NG (1989) "Akathisia associated with droperidol during epidural anesthesia." Anesthesiology, 71, p. 786-7

6. Melnick BM (1988) "Extrapyramidal reactions to low-dose droperidol." Anesthesiology, 69, p. 424-6

7. Patton CM Jr. (1975) "Rapid induction of acute dyskinesia by droperidol." Anesthesiology, 43, p. 126-7

8. Bamrah JS (1988) "Neuroleptic-induced pyrexia. A benign variant." J Nerv Ment Dis, 176, p. 741-3

9. Arrowsmith J, Gams RA (1981) "Dystonia with droperidol therapy." N Engl J Med, 305, p. 227

10. Merridew GC, Keefe PA (1994) "Presence of extrapyramidal side-effects from droperidol in low dose." Anaesth Intensive Care, 22, p. 319-20

11. Ratan DA, Smith AH (1993) "Neuroleptic malignant syndrome secondary to droperidol." Biol Psychiatry, 34, p. 421-2

12. Patel P, Bristow G (1987) "Postoperative neuroleptic malignant syndrome. A case report." Can J Anaesth, 34, p. 515-8

13. Holmes VF, Adams F, Fernandez F (1987) "Respiratory dyskinesia due to antiemetic therapy in a cancer patient." Cancer Treat Rep, 71, p. 415-6

14. Szuba MP, Bergman KS, Baxter LR Jr, Guze BH, Reynolds CA, Pelletier LR (1992) "Safety and efficacy of high-dose droperidol in agitated patients." J Clin Psychopharmacol, 12, p. 144-6

15. Athanassiadis C, Karamanis A (1992) "Akathisia after long-term epidural use of droperidol: a case report." Pain, 50, p. 203-4

16. Foster PN, Stickle BR, Laurence AS (1996) "Akathisia following low-dose droperidol for antiemesis in day-case patients." Anaesthesia, 51, p. 491-4

17. Chambers RA, Druss BG (1999) "Droperidol: Efficacy and side effects in psychiatric emergencies." J Clin Psychiatry, 60, p. 664-7

18. Silberstein SD, Young WB, Mendizabal JE, Rothrock JF, Alam AS (2003) "Acute migraine treatment with droperidol: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial." Neurology, 60, p. 315-21

19. Clark RJ (1993) "Tongue-swelling with droperidol." Anaesth Intensive Care, 21, p. 898

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.