Randomized Study of Metoclopramide Plus Diphenhydramine for Acute Posttraumatic Headache

Benjamin W. Friedman, Eddie Irizarry, Darnell Cain, Arianna Caradonna, Mia T. Minen, Clemencia Solorzano, Eleftheria Zias, David Zybert, Michael Mcgregor, Polly E. Bijur, E. John Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether IV metoclopramide 20 mg + diphenhydramine 25 mg (M + D) was more efficacious than IV placebo for acute moderate or severe posttraumatic headache in the emergency room. Methods: We conducted this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study in 2 urban emergency departments (EDs). Participants who experienced head trauma and presented to our EDs within 10 days with a headache fulfilling criteria for acute posttraumatic headache were included. We randomized participants in a 1:1 ratio to M + D or placebo. Participants, caregivers, and outcome assessors were blinded to assignment. The primary outcome was improvement in pain on a scale of 0 to 10 between baseline and 1 hour after treatment. Results: This study was completed between August 2017 and March 2020. We screened 414 patients for participation and randomized 160: 81 to M + D and 79 to placebo. Baseline characteristics were comparable between the groups. All enrolled participants provided primary outcome data. Patients receiving placebo reported mean improvement of 3.8 (SD 2.6), while those receiving M + D improved by 5.2 (SD 2.3), for a difference favoring metoclopramide of 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7-2.2, p < 0.01). Adverse events were reported by 35 of 81 (43%) patients who received metoclopramide and 22 of 79 (28%) of patients who received placebo (95% CI 1-30 for difference of 15%, p = 0.04). Conclusion: M + D was more efficacious than placebo with regard to relief of posttraumatic headache in the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2323-E2331
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 4 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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