Management Considerations for Recalcitrant Hyperemesis

Daniel Spinosa, Annalisa Post, Jeffrey A Kuller, Sarah Dotters-Katz
Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey 2020, 75 (1): 50-60

Importance: Hyperemesis gravidarum (HEG) affects 0.3% to 3% of pregnancies and requires additional therapies beyond those commonly used for less severe instances of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). Differentiating between NVP and HEG is a vital yet challenging function for any obstetrician. The literature for management of HEG is lacking compared with that of NVP.

Objective: Review etiology of NVP/HEG highlights key considerations in the workup of HEG as they compare to NVP and explore management options for recalcitrant HEG focusing principally on how they affect maternal and fetal outcomes and secondarily on where data are nonprescriptive.

Evidence Acquisition: This was a literature review primarily using PubMed and Google Scholar.

Results: Short-course corticosteroids and treatment for Helicobacter pylori have the most favorable risk-reward profiles of the 4 pharmacologic therapies evaluated. Mirtazapine and diazepam may have a place in highly selected patients. If nutritional supplementation is required, enteral nutrition is strictly preferred to parenteral nutrition. Postpyloric feeding approaches are less likely to induce vomiting. Surgically placed feeding tubes are less likely to be dislodged and may be worth the invasive insertion procedure if nasogastric or nasojejunal tubes are not tolerated.

Conclusions and Relevance: Hyperemesis gravidarum is a diagnosis reserved for refractory cases of NVP and therefore by definition poses treatment challenges. Any clinical presentation that lent itself to prescriptive, algorithmic management would likely fall short of the diagnostic criteria for HEG. However, data can inform management on a patient-by-patient basis or at least help patient and provider understand risks and benefits of therapies reserved for refractory cases.


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