Author(s): Lee CR, McTavish D, Sorkin EM
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Abstract Tramadol is a centrally acting analgesic which possesses opioid agonist properties and activates monoaminergic spinal inhibition of pain. It may be administered orally, rectally, intravenously or intramuscularly. In patients with moderate to severe postoperative pain, intravenous or intramuscular tramadol has generally proved to be of equivalent potency to pethidine (meperidine) and one-fifth as potent as nalbuphine. Intravenous tramadol 50 to 150mg was equivalent in analgesic efficacy to morphine 5 to 15mg in patients with moderate pain following surgery; however, when administered epidurally tramadol was one-thirtieth as potent as morphine. Tramadol has demonstrated efficacy in a few studies in the short term treatment of chronic pain of various origins. Orally administered tramadol was found to be an effective analgesic in step 2 of the World Health Organization's guidelines for the treatment of patients with cancer pain. Tramadol is well tolerated in short term use with dizziness, nausea, sedation, dry mouth and sweating being the principal adverse effects. Respiratory depression has been observed in only a few patients after tramadol infusion anaesthesia. When used for pain relief during childbirth, intravenously administered tramadol did not cause respiratory depression in neonates. The tolerance and dependence potential of tramadol during treatment for up to 6 months appears to be low, although the possibility of dependence with long term use cannot be entirely excluded. Thus, evidence to date of the analgesic effectiveness of tramadol combined with a low respiratory depressant effect and low dependence potential in short term use, suggests that the drug may become a useful alternative to the opioid analgesics currently available for the treatment of patients with moderately severe acute or chronic pain.
This article was published in Drugs
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research