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Minerva Anestesiologica 2000 October;66(10):713-31


language: Italian

Systematic review of trials on the use of tramadol in the treatment of acute and chronic pain

Savoia G., Loreto M. *, Scibelli G. **

A.O. «A. Cardarelli» Servizio Rianimazione Pediatria *Seconda Università degli Studi - Napoli Scuola di Specializzazione in Anestesiologia e Rianimazione **Ospedale «Buon Consiglio» - FBF - Napoli Divisione di Anestesia e Rianimazione


Background. The purpose of the study was to verify the effectiveness of tramadol in the treatment of non-oncologic chronic pain, oncologic chronic pain and postoperative acute pain, applying the principles of meta-analytic analysis to randomized clinical trials (TCR).
Methods. I: Medline research of the TCR on the question in the period between 1989-1999, II: exclusion of single TCR through the question of Moore and Mcquay; calculation of the relative risk reduction (RRR), of the number needed to treat (NNT), of the odds ratio (OR) and of the typical odds ratio (TOR) of the trials which responded to characteristics of correct randomization and blindness, which expressed citation of the patients excluded from trial, and patients with measurable analgesic effectiveness (number of patients with reduction of the pain intensity 50%).
Results. 52 trials extracted from Medline: 10 on the treatment of non-oncologic chronic pain, 36 on the treatment of postoperative acute pain and 6 on the treatment of oncologic chronic pain. Responded fully to requirements: 8 studies (3 for non-oncologic chronic pain, 3 for postoperative acute pain and 2 for oncologic pain). The OR was 0.55 (-0.31/1.41); 0.44 (1.04/1.92) and 0.98 (0.5/1.46); the RRR was 0.26 (-0.19/0.71), 0.38 (0.15/0.61), 0.005 (0.19/0.20) and the NNT 6.6 (6.39/6.81), 5.26 (5.12/5.4), ∞ in the 3 trials selected between those that concern the treatment of the non-oncologic chronic pain (with TOR: 0.57 and confidence index: 0.23-0.9); the OR was 0.36 (1.06/1.78), 0.78 (-0.08/-1.64) and 1.12 (0.54/1.69); the RRR was 0.26 (-0.18/0.7), 0.07 (-0.2/0.35), -0.01 (-0.09/0.07) and the NNT 4.7 (4.42/4.58), 20 (19.8/20.20), ∞ in the trials on the treatment of postoperative acute pain (with TOR: 0.4 and confidence index: -0.6-0.86); the OR was 0.53 (-0.67/1.73), 0.27 (-0.71/1.12); the RRR was 0.19 (-0.33/0.72), 0.35 (0.02/0.68) and the NNT 7.1 (6.78/7.42), 3.57 (3.37/3.76) in those that involved the treatment of oncologic chronic pain (with TOR: 0.49 and confidence index: 0.36-0.8).
Conclusions. Although the short number of trials which can treated by the metanalytic technique the treatment with tramadol, compared comparison’s to drugs (morphine, pentazocine, bupremorphine, etc.) determined a slight improvement in analgesic parameters or at least in analgesic effectiveness.

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