Postoperative shivering and pain are frequent problems in patients recovering from anaesthesia with particularly high incidences being observed after remifentanil-isoflurane-based general anaesthesia. The opioid tramadol is generally effective in preventing shivering and treating pain, but its effects are not characterized after remifentanil-based general anaesthesia. This randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study evaluated the effects of intraoperative intravenous tramadol on postoperative shivering and pain after remifentanil-based general anaesthesia.
After Ethics Committee approval, 60 patients scheduled for lumbar disc surgery were included. Surgery was performed under general anaesthesia (remifentanil, isoflurane). Patients were randomly assigned to receive 2 mg kg(-1) tramadol in 30 mL 0.9% saline infused intravenously (n = 30) or 30 mL saline (n = 30) 45-30 min before skin closure. The following parameters were assessed every 10 min for 2 h: shivering, pain, postoperative nausea and vomiting, sedation, heart rate, non-invasive blood pressure and peripheral oxygen saturation. The primary outcome variable was the incidence of shivering during the first 2 postoperative hours. Secondary variables were: shivering intensity, pain, postoperative nausea and vomiting, sedation, heart rate, non-invasive blood pressure and peripheral oxygen saturation.
Shivering was less frequent in patients treated with tramadol (20% vs. 70%, P = 0.0009) and was of lower intensity (severe shivering: 10% vs. 46.7%, P = 0.003). Pain scores were similar between the groups and all other secondary outcome variables failed to reveal significant differences.
Compared with placebo, intraoperative intravenous administration of 2 mg kg(-1) tramadol reduces the incidence and extent of postoperative shivering without alterations in pain perception after lumbar disc surgery under remifentanil-isoflurane-based general anaesthesia.