Current Issue - March/April 2020 - Vol 23 Issue 2


  1. 2020;23;175-201Analgesic Efficacy and Adverse Effects of Meperidine in Managing Postoperative or Labor Pain: A Narrative Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
    Narrative Review
    Stanley Sau Ching Wong, MBBS, and Chi Wai Cheung, MD.

BACKGROUND: Meperidine, a synthetic opioid, has a rapid onset and short duration of action. Mounting evidence has challenged meperidine’s analgesic benefits, and concerns have been raised about its safety profile. Despite recommendations to restrict the prescription of meperidine, the drug remains frequently used.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to evaluate the evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of meperidine for acute postoperative and labor pain.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a narrative review of the analgesic efficacy and side effects of meperidine compared to other analgesic drugs for acute postoperative and labor pain in adults.

SETTING: Randomized controlled trials that compared the analgesic efficacy and side effect profile of meperidine versus another analgesic drug in adult patients were evaluated.

METHODS: A systemized search of randomized controlled trials studying meperidine for acute postoperative or labor pain in the adult patient population from PubMed, Medline, and EMBASE was performed. Included studies reported on different routes of meperidine administration including intramuscular, intravenous, and patient-controlled analgesia in various surgical procedures such as abdominal surgery, Cesarean section, gynecological surgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, as well as for labor analgesia. Meperidine’s analgesic efficacy and safety profile were compared to other opioids (morphine, tramadol, fentanyl, buprenorphine, nalbuphine, and pentazocine), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ketorolac, diclofenac, and indomethacin), dipyrone, ketamine, and bupivacaine.

RESULTS: A total of 62 randomized controlled trials published between 1972 and 2018 were reviewed. Meperidine had a similar or inferior analgesic efficacy compared to other analgesics for acute postoperative or labor pain. Meperidine was associated with more sedation and respiratory depression.

LIMITATIONS: The sample sizes of many clinical studies were small, and therefore probably insufficiently powered to detect differences in uncommon side effects, such as central nervous system toxicity. In addition, some of the included clinical studies were old.

CONCLUSION: Considering the availability of other effective analgesics with potentially fewer side effects, the use of meperidine for acute postoperative or labor pain should not be recommended.

KEY WORDS: Acute postoperative pain, adverse effects, labor analgesia, meperidine, pethidine