Randomised controlled trial of intramuscular tramadol versus transdermal buprenorphine patch for early postoperative surgical pain

A. Kirpichnikov*, M. Z. Koto, F. Ghoor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: This study assesses the efficiency of the buprenorphine patch system compared to the routine use of tramadol intramuscular injections in the context of the South African public healthcare sector. Methods: Patients were randomised into two groups, who received routine tramadol injections 100 mg every 8 hours intramuscular and buprenorphine patches 5 mcg every hour. The study assessed the first 48 hours postoperatively. A visual discrete pain scale was used to assess the level of postoperative pain as well as all complications associated with insufficient analgesic administration. Results: The sample size included 75 patients in the tramadol group and 75 patients in the buprenorphine patch group. Nine patients (12%, p-value < 0.0001) who received the buprenorphine patch subsequently required additional analgesia. The pain score was found to be significantly less in the buprenorphine patch group on both day 1 and day 2, as were complications such as vomiting, nausea, nightmares, sweating and insomnia. The pain score in the buprenorphine group was significantly lower compared to the tramadol group. The use of the buprenorphine patch showed a slight increase in costs compared to the tramadol group (R7 800.75 vs R7 537.50; p-value 0.483) in the whole study. Conclusion: The study showed that the use of the buprenorphine patch is a reliable and effective method of postoperative analgesia, although it is slightly more expensive compared to the routine use of tramadol. The buprenorphine patch showed significantly better results in all assessed parameters; thus, it may be recommended for use at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-166
Number of pages7
JournalSouth African Journal of Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • buprenorphine patch
  • postoperative analgesia
  • postoperative pain
  • tramadol


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