A comparison of the effects of tramadol and morphine on gastric emptying in man

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SummaryIn a previous study using an electrical bioimpedance technique and the paracetamol absorption test, we demonstrated that 0.09 mg.kg−1 of morphine delayed gastric emptying in healthy human volunteers. The aim of this study was to investigate whether analgesic doses of tramadol would cause a delay in gastric emptying similar to conventional opioids. Using the same volunteers and techniques as in our previous study, placebo or tramadol (1 mg.kg−1) was given in a randomised, double-blinded, cross-over placebo-controlled study. Gastric emptying was measured concurrently by a noninvasive epigastric bioimpedance technique and by the paracetamol absorption test. After the ingestion of 500 ml of deionised water plus paracetamol 1.5 g, the mean (SEM) time taken for gastric volume to decrease to 50% (t0.5) was recorded. No difference in gastric emptying rates (t0.5) between placebo, 7.7 (1 min), and tramadol, 9.5 (2 min), was noted. In our previous study, morphine prolonged t0.5 to 21 (3) min (p < 0.03). The maximum concentration and area under the curve of serum paracetamol concentrations following morphine were significantly different from placebo (p < 0.05) and tramadol (p < 0.05). We conclude that tramadol at a dose of 1 mg.kg−1 does not delay gastric emptying in humans.

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