Efficacy and Safety of Intravenously Administered Tramadol in Patients with Moderate to Severe Pain Following Bunionectomy: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Dose-Finding Study

Pain Ther. 2020 Dec;9(2):545-562. doi: 10.1007/s40122-020-00184-2. Epub 2020 Jul 18.


Introduction: This study is part of the registrational program for intravenously administered (IV) tramadol in the USA and compared the analgesic benefit and tolerability of two doses of IV tramadol (50 mg and 25 mg) to placebo in adult patients undergoing bunionectomy, an orthopedic surgical model.

Methods: This was a phase 3, multicenter, double-blind, three-arm, randomized, placebo-controlled, multiple-dose, parallel-group trial to evaluate IV tramadol in the management of postoperative pain following bunionectomy. Eligible patients were randomized (1:1:1 ratio) to IV tramadol 50 mg, 25 mg, or placebo. Primary endpoint was summary of pain intensity differences over 48 h (SPID48). Key secondary endpoints included SPID24, total consumption of rescue analgesia, and patient global assessment of efficacy (PGA). Safety assessments included treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs), clinical laboratory tests, vital signs, and electrocardiograms (ECGs). Assessment of the dose-response was an important objective of the study.

Results: The study established a dose response, with IV tramadol 50 mg demonstrating statistically significant benefit (p < 0.05) over placebo for primary and all key secondary efficacy endpoints, whereas tramadol 25 mg demonstrated intermediate results between the 50 mg and placebo arms. IV tramadol 50 mg was well tolerated; most common TEAEs were nausea and vomiting; and there were no meaningful differences among treatments for vital signs, ECG, and laboratory assessments. The largest proportion of patients completed tramadol 50 mg (98.6%) compared to tramadol 25 mg (91.8%) and placebo (88.2%).

Conclusion: IV tramadol 50 mg was effective and well tolerated as treatment for postoperative pain following bunionectomy surgery, while IV tramadol 25 mg, although well tolerated, was judged an ineffective dose for the treatment of pain in this setting. IV tramadol 50 mg was further developed in the registrational program for the USA.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier, NCT03290378.

Keywords: Dose-finding; Intravenously administered tramadol; Postoperative pain; Randomized clinical trial; Schedule IV opioid; Summary of pain differences.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03290378