Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of intravenous meperidine in neonates and infants

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1992 Oct;52(4):342-9. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1992.153.


The pharmacokinetics of meperidine (pethidine) was studied in 21 infants who received a single intravenous dose of 1 mg/kg after surgery (n = 18) or during mechanical ventilation because of respiratory distress (n = 3). Eleven patients were younger than 1 week old, 10 patients were aged from 3 weeks to 5 months, and five of the patients were premature. The pharmacokinetics of meperidine varied greatly between the subjects, with a median elimination half-life of 10.7 hours (range, 3.3 to 59.4 hours), median clearance of 8.0 ml/kg/min (range, 1.8 to 34.9 ml/kg/min), median volume of the central compartment of 2.4 L/kg (range, 0.5 to 4.8 L/kg), and median steady-state volume of distribution 7.2 L/kg (range, 3.3 to 11.0). The great interindividual variability in meperidine pharmacokinetics should be taken into consideration when meperidine is administered to neonates. Although no life-threatening or serious side effects were observed in this study, appropriate care should be exercised when prescribing meperidine for this age group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / metabolism*
  • Infant, Premature / metabolism
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Meperidine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Meperidine / pharmacology
  • Meperidine / therapeutic use
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Respiration, Artificial


  • Meperidine