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Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2012 Aug;111(2):133-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2012.00874.x. Epub 2012 Mar 22.

Recurrent seizures in tramadol intoxication: implications for therapy based on 100 patients.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Toxicology, Loghman Hakim Hospital Poison Center, Faculty of Medicine, Toxicological Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.


Tramadol is an atypical opioid analgesic used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. Despite being a GABA(A) agonist, seizures are a prominent complication with its therapeutic use, abuse or overdose. For patients who have had a tramadol-induced seizure, the likelihood of recurrent seizures and the need for emergent anticonvulsant prophylaxis is unknown. However, treatment of patients with anticonvulsants prophylactically may cause adverse effects and increased morbidity in tramadol poisoning. We studied the outcome and frequency of recurrent seizures in tramadol-intoxicated patients in an attempt to determine the need for prophylactic anticonvulsant therapy. This was a retrospective cohort study of tramadol-intoxicated patients who had at least one seizure. Patients' age, sex, cause(s) of intoxication, route of poisoning, dose or number of capsules or tablets taken, vital signs, other signs or symptoms, numbers of seizures, length of stay, co-ingestions and past medical history were ascertained. Exactly 100 patients met the inclusion criteria. Eighty-two per cent were men, and 50% were between 21 and 30 years old. By our standard clinical protocol, none were treated with seizure prophylaxis after their first seizure. Only 7% had recurrent seizures and all patients recovered without sequelae. Because of the low risk of multiple seizures in tramadol poisoning and the lack of morbidity in patients who do seize, it appears to be unnecessary to administer prophylactic anticonvulsant therapy in patients with tramadol poisoning, even if they have an initial seizure.

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