Background and objective: Adequate relief of pain after tonsillectomy is a common problem. We compared meperidine and tramadol when given at induction of anaesthesia with respect to their effects on postoperative pain relief and emergence characteristics after adenotonsillectomy in children.
Methods: Fifty children aged 4–7 yr undergoing tonsillectomy were randomly assigned to receive either tramadol 1 mg kg−1 (n = 25) or meperidine 1 mg kg−1 (n = 25) before commencement of the surgical procedure. Anaesthesia was induced with propofol (with cis-atracurium for muscle relaxation) and maintained with sevoflurane in oxygen and nitrous oxide. Postoperative pain was scored by a blinded observer using a facial pain scale in the recovery room at 0 (at arrival of the patient in the postoperative care unit) and at 10, 20 and 45 min thereafter. Agitation scores were also assessed by the same observer at 0 min. Heart rate and mean arterial pressure were recorded at regular intervals. The time to recovery to spontaneous respiration and the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting were noted.
Results: Facial pain scale scores were increased in the tramadol group at 0, 10 and 20 min (P < 0.05). No difference was observed in scores at the 45th min postoperation. Agitation scores were higher in the tramadol group than in the meperidine group. No statistical difference was found between the two groups. Heart rates and mean arterial pressures were similar in both groups. The time to recovery to spontaneous respiration was delayed with meperidine compared with tramadol (P < 0.05). The incidence of nausea and vomiting was not statistically different between groups.
Conclusions: Meperidine was more effective for pain relief and provides better emergence characteristics than tramadol after tonsillectomy in children.