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Pain management in dental practice: tramadol vs. codeine combinations.

Author(s): Moore PA

Affiliation(s): Department of Public Health Dentistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, Pa. 15261, USA.

Publication date & source: 1999-07, J Am Dent Assoc., 130(7):1075-9.

Publication type: Review

BACKGROUND: Tramadol hydrochloride is a novel, centrally acting analgesic with two complementary mechanisms of action: opioid and aminergic. First marketed in 1994, tramadol is frequently prescribed by physicians for the management of moderate-to-moderately severe chronic pain. The author evaluates its unique analgesic pharmacology and limited clinical utility for managing acute pain in dentistry. TYPES OF STUDIES REVIEWED: Clinical drug trials in medicine and dentistry were reviewed to assess analgesic efficacy. Postmarketing surveillance studies and reports of adverse drug events were evaluated to determine short- and long-term safety. RESULTS: Tramadol's maximum analgesic efficacy for relieving acute pain after oral surgery appears to be similar to that of 60 milligrams of codeine alone but less than that of a full therapeutic dose of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or a codeine combination, such as aspirin/codeine or acetaminophen/codeine. Adverse events reported by patients receiving tramadol therapy since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration suggest a risk of seizures, drug abuse and anaphylactoid reactions. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Tramadol has limited indication for management of acute pain in dentistry, possibly as an alternative analgesic when gastrointestinal side effects contraindicate the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and when codeine/acetaminophen combination analgesics are not well-tolerated or are contraindicated.

Page last updated: 2006-01-31

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