Pre-emptive analgesic efficacy of tramadol compared with morphine after major abdominal surgery

H Unlugenc, M Ozalevli, Y Gunes, T Guler, G Isik
British Journal of Anaesthesia 2003, 91 (2): 209-13

BACKGROUND: Studies of pre-emptive analgesia in humans have shown conflicting results. This prospective, randomized, double-blind, controlled study was designed to test the hypothesis that a reduction in postoperative morphine consumption can be achieved by tramadol administered after induction of anaesthesia.

METHODS: Ninety patients were allocated randomly to receive i.v. tramadol (1 mg kg(-1)) (Group T), morphine (0.1 mg kg(-1)) (Group M) or saline 2 ml (Group S) after induction of anaesthesia. At peritoneal closure, a standardized (0.1 mg kg(-1)) morphine loading dose was given to all patients for postoperative pain management. Patients were allowed to use a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device giving bolus doses of morphine 0.025 mg kg(-1). Discomfort, sedation, pain scores, cumulative morphine consumption, and side-effects were recorded at 1, 2, 6, 12 and 24 h after the start of PCA.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences between groups in mean pain, discomfort, and sedation scores at any study period. Cumulative morphine consumption was significantly lower in Group M at 12 and 24 h after starting the PCA than in Group S. In Group T, it was lower only after 24 h (28% less in Group M and 17% less in Group T; P<0.017). There were no significant differences in morphine consumption between Groups T and M.

CONCLUSIONS: Tramadol (1 mg kg(-1)), administered after induction of anaesthesia, offered equivalent postoperative pain relief, and similar recovery times and postoperative PCA morphine consumption compared with giving morphine 0.1 mg kg(-1). These results also suggest that presurgical exposure to systemic opioid analgesia may not result in clinically significant benefits .


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