Tramadol overdose and apnea in hospitalized children, a review of 20 cases

H Hassanian-Moghaddam, F Farnaghi, M Rahimi


We aimed to determine the clinical manifestations of tramadol intoxication in children and to find its potential poor prognostic factors. In a retrospective study, from 1363 cases of admitted pediatric poisoning, all tramadol-exposed hospitalized patients younger than 12 years were included in the study. They were hospitalized between March 2010 and April 2012 to the only referral hospital for pediatric poisoned patients in Tehran, Iran. Data including age, weight, gender, ingested dose (determined by history), pupil size, seizure, apnea, treatment interventions, and laboratory results was collected using chart review of the hospitalized intoxicated children. Twenty children with a mean age of 3.7 ± 2.9 years were identified amongst children during this 26-month period of whom, 14 (70%) had a decreased level of consciousness, 3 (15%) experienced apnea, and four (20%) had nausea and vomiting. Witnessed seizure did not occur in any of these patients. All patients were referred to hospital within 10.5 h of the exposure. The mean ingested dose was 9.6 ± 5.5 mg/kg. There was no significant relation between apnea and the estimated toxic dose. Apnea was more common in children who had presented with respiratory acidosis (Relative risk = 3.8, 95% CI = 1.6, 8.7, P = 0.043). All patients survived. Patients with apnea were managed conservatively by naloxone and recovered without need for intubation. Respiratory depression might occur at doses just above the therapeutic dose. We recommend an observation time of 12 h for all asymptomatic children who have ingested any dose greater than the therapeutic one.

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