The addition of a tramadol infusion to morphine patient-controlled analgesia after abdominal surgery: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized trial

Ashley R Webb, Samuel Leong, Paul S Myles, Sara J Burn
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2002, 95 (6): 1713-8, table of contents

UNLABELLED: In this double-blinded, randomized controlled trial, we tested whether the addition of tramadol to morphine for patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) resulted in improved analgesia efficacy and smaller morphine requirements compared with morphine PCA alone after abdominal surgery in adults. Sixty-nine patients were randomly allocated into two groups, each receiving morphine 1 mg/mL via PCA after surgery. The tramadol group received an intraoperative initial loading dose of tramadol (1 mg/kg) and a postoperative infusion of tramadol at 0.2 mg. kg(-1). h(-1). The control group received an intraoperative equivalent volume of normal saline and a postoperative saline infusion. Postoperatively, tramadol was associated with improved subjective analgesic efficacy (P = 0.031) and there was significantly less PCA morphine use in the tramadol group (P = 0.023). No differences between the groups were found with regard to nausea, antiemetic use, sedation, or quality of recovery (all P > 0.05). We conclude that a tramadol infusion combined with PCA morphine improves analgesia and reduces morphine requirements after abdominal surgery compared with morphine PCA alone.

IMPLICATIONS: In this study, we determined whether adding a second pain-killing drug, tramadol, could improve pain relief after major surgery in patients receiving morphine patient-controlled analgesia. We found that patients receiving tramadol had significantly better opinions of their pain relief and used significantly less morphine with no increase in side effects.

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