Buprenorphine disposition in patients with renal impairment: single and continuous dosing, with special reference to metabolites

Br J Anaesth. 1990 Mar;64(3):276-82. doi: 10.1093/bja/64.3.276.


The disposition of buprenorphine has been studied in two patient groups to assess the influence of impaired renal function on the metabolism of buprenorphine and two of its metabolites, buprenorphine-3-glucuronide (B3G) and norbuprenorphine (NorB). A single i.v. dose of 0.3 mg was given to 15 patients (nine with dialysis-dependent renal failure) undergoing lower abdominal or peripheral body surface surgery. Blood was sampled up to 24 h. Concentrations of buprenorphine, B3G and NorB were assayed by a differential radioimmunoassay technique. There were no differences in buprenorphine kinetics between anaesthetized healthy patients and those with renal impairment: mean elimination half-lives 398 and 239 min; clearance 651 and 988 ml min-1; apparent volume of distribution at steady state 313 and 201 litre, respectively. Both metabolites were undetectable following the single i.v. dose. In a second group of 20 patients (eight with renal impairment), buprenorphine was administered by continuous infusion for provision of analgesia and control of ventilation in the ITU (median infusion rate 161 micrograms h-1 (range 36-230 micrograms h-1) for a median duration of 30 h (2-565 h). Buprenorphine clearance in patients with normal and impaired renal function was similar (934 and 1102 ml min-1, respectively), as were dose-corrected plasma concentrations of buprenorphine. In patients with renal failure, plasma concentrations of NorB were increased by a median of four times, and B3G concentrations by a median of 15 times.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Buprenorphine / administration & dosage
  • Buprenorphine / analogs & derivatives
  • Buprenorphine / blood
  • Buprenorphine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • buprenorphine-3-O-glucuronide
  • Buprenorphine
  • norbuprenorphine