Tramadol is a synthetic codeine analogue used as an analgesic in human and veterinary medicine, but not approved for use in cats. Tramadol (2 mg/kg) was administered intravenously (IV) as preoperative analgesic in 12 cats (6 males) undergoing surgical gonadectomy. The pharmacokinetic profile of the drug and its O-desmethyl metabolite were determined in 8 animals (4 males), while intraoperative effects and postoperative analgesia, estimated by subjective pain score (0-24), were evaluated in all. Mean intraoperative isoflurane consumption was reduced, but hypoventilation was not observed. Sex-related differences were not observed, particularly in terms of postoperative analgesia: rescue analgesic was never administered. Concentrations of the active O-desmethyl metabolite were persistently high in all the animals. Considering the results obtained in this study, tramadol, at the dose of 2 mg/kg IV, did not produce any evident intraoperative cardiorespiratory side effects and with additional investigation may prove to be an appropriate intraoperative analgesic in cats undergoing gonadectomy.
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