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Related to butorphanol: Butorphanol tartrate


a synthetic opioid used as an analgesic and an adjunct to anesthesia in the form of the tartrate salt.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


(byoo-tor-fa-nole) ,


(trade name)


Therapeutic: opioid analgesics
Pharmacologic: opioid agonists antagonists
Pregnancy Category: C


Management of moderate to severe pain.Analgesia during labor.Sedation before surgery.Supplement in balanced anesthesia.


Binds to opiate receptors in the CNS.
Alters the perception of and response to painful stimuli while producing generalized CNS depression.
Has partial antagonist properties that may result in opioid withdrawal in physically dependent patients.

Therapeutic effects

Decreased severity of pain.


Absorption: Well absorbed from IM sites and nasal mucosa.
Distribution: Crosses the placenta and enters breast milk.
Metabolism and Excretion: Mostly metabolized by the liver; 11–14% excreted in the feces. Minimal renal excretion.
Half-life: 3–4 hr.

Time/action profile (analgesia)

IMwithin 15 min30–60 min3–4 hr
IVwithin mins4–5 min2–4 hr
Intranasalwithin 15 min1–2 hr4–5 hr


Contraindicated in: Hypersensitivity;Patients physically dependent on opioids (may precipitate withdrawal).
Use Cautiously in: Head trauma;↑ intracranial pressure;Severe renal, hepatic, or pulmonary disease (↑ interval to q 6–8 hr initially in hepatic/renal impairment);Hypothyroidism;Adrenal insufficiency;Alcoholism;Undiagnosed abdominal pain;Prostatic hyperplasia; Obstetric / Lactation / Pediatric: Safety not established but has been used during labor (may cause respiratory depression in the newborn); Geriatric: ↓ usual dose by 50%; give at twice the usual interval initially.

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Central nervous system

  • confusion (most frequent)
  • dysphoria (most frequent)
  • hallucinations (most frequent)
  • sedation (most frequent)
  • euphoria
  • floating feeling
  • headache
  • unusual dreams

Ear, Eye, Nose, Throat

  • blurred vision
  • diplopia
  • miosis (high doses)


  • respiratory depression


  • hypertension
  • hypotension
  • palpitations


  • nausea (most frequent)
  • constipation
  • dry mouth
  • ileus
  • vomiting


  • urinary retention


  • sweating (most frequent)
  • clammy feeling


  • physical dependence
  • psychological dependence
  • tolerance


Drug-Drug interaction

Use with extreme caution in patients receiving MAO inhibitors (may produce severe, potentially fatal reactions—reduce initial dose of butorphanol to 25% of usual dose).Additive CNS depression with alcohol, antidepressants, antihistamines, and sedative/hypnotics.May precipitate withdrawal in patients who are physically dependent on opioids and have not been detoxified.May ↓ effects of concurrently administered opioids.Concomitant use of kava-kava, valerian, chamomile, or hops can ↑ CNS depression.


Intramuscular (Adults) 2 mg q 3–4 hr as needed (range 1–4 mg).
Intravenous (Adults) 1 mg q 3–4 hr as needed (range 0.5–2 mg).
Intramuscular Intravenous (Geriatric Patients) 1 mg q 4–6 hr, ↑ as necessary.
Intranasal (Adults) 1 mg (1 spray in 1 nostril) initially. An additional dose may be given 60–90 min later. This sequence may be repeated in 3–4 hr. If pain is severe, an initial dose of 2 mg (1 spray in each nostril) may be given. May be repeated in 3–4 hr.
Intranasal (Geriatric Patients) 1 mg (1 spray in 1 nostril) initially. An additional dose may be given 90–120 min later. This sequence may be repeated in 3–4 hr.

Availability (generic available)

Injection: 1 mg/mL, 2 mg/mL
Intranasal solution: 10 mg/mL, in 2.5-mL metered-dose spray pump (14–15 doses; 1 mg/spray)

Nursing implications

Nursing assessment

  • Assess type, location, and intensity of pain before and 30–60 min after IM, 5 min after IV, and 60–90 min after intranasal administration. When titrating opioid doses, increases of 25–50% should be administered until there is either a 50% reduction in the patient’s pain rating on a numerical or visual analogue scale or the patient reports satisfactory pain relief. A repeat dose can be safely administered at the time of the peak if previous dose is ineffective and side effects are minimal. Patients requiring doses higher than 4 mg should be converted to an opioid agonist. Butorphanol is not recommended for prolonged use or as first-line therapy for acute or cancer pain.
  • An equianalgesic chart (see ) should be used when changing routes or when changing from one opioid to another.
  • Assess BP, pulse, and respirations before and periodically during administration. If respiratory rate is <10/min, assess level of sedation. Dose may need to be decreased by 25–50%. Respiratory depression does not increase in severity, only in duration, with increased dosage.
  • Assess previous analgesic history. Antagonistic properties may induce withdrawal symptoms (vomiting, restlessness, abdominal cramps, increased BP and temperature) in patients who are physically dependent on opioid agonists.
  • Butorphanol has a lower potential for dependence than other opioids; however, prolonged use may lead to physical and psychological dependence and tolerance. This should not prevent the patient from receiving adequate analgesia. Most patients receiving butorphanol for pain do not develop psychological dependence. If tolerance develops, changing to an opioid agonist may be required to relieve pain.
  • Lab Test Considerations: May cause ↑ serum amylase and lipase levels.
  • If an opioid antagonist is required to reverse respiratory depression or coma, naloxone (Narcan) is the antidote. Dilute the 0.4-mg ampule of naloxone in 10 mL of 0.9% NaCl and administer 0.5 mL (0.02 mg) by direct IV push every 2 min. For children and patients weighing <40 kg, dilute 0.1 mg of naloxone in 10 mL of 0.9% NaCl for a concentration of 10 mcg/mL and administer 0.5 mcg/kg every 1–2 min. Titrate dose to avoid withdrawal, seizures, and severe pain.

Potential Nursing Diagnoses

Acute pain (Indications)
Risk for injury (Side Effects)
Disturbed sensory perception(visual, auditory) (Side Effects)


  • high alert: Accidental overdosage of opioid analgesics has resulted in fatalities. Before administering, clarify all ambiguous orders; have second practitioner independently check original order, dose calculations, route of administration, and infusion pump programming.
  • Explain therapeutic value of medication before administration to enhance the analgesic effect.
    • Regularly administered doses may be more effective than prn administration. Analgesic is more effective if given before pain becomes severe.
    • Coadministration with nonopioid analgesics may have additive analgesic effects and permit lower opioid doses.
  • Intramuscular: Administer IM injections deep into well-developed muscle. Rotate sites of injections.
  • Intravenous Administration
  • pH: 3.0–5.5.
  • Diluent: May give IV undiluted.
  • Concentration: 1–2 mg/mL.
  • Rate: Administer over 3–5 min. high alert: Rapid administration may cause respiratory depression, hypotension, and cardiac arrest.
  • Y-Site Compatibility: acyclovir, alemtuzumab, allopurinol, amifostine, amikacin, aminocaproic acid, aminophylline, amphotericin B lipid complex, amphotericin B liposome, anidulafungin, argatroban, ascorbic acid, atracurium, atropine, aztreonam, benztropine, bivalirudin, bleomycin, bumetanide, buprenorphine, calcium chloride, calcium gluconate, carboplatin, carmustine, caspofungin, cefazolin, cefepime, cefoperazone, cefotaxime, cefotetan, ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, cefuroxime, chlorpromazine, cisatracurium, cladribine, clindamycin, cyanocobalamin, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, cytarabine, dexamethasone, dexmedetomidine, digoxin, diltiazem, diphenhydramine, dobutamine, docetaxel, dopamine, doxacurium, doxorubicin hydrochloride, doxorubicin liposome, doxycycline, enalaprilat, ephedrine, epinephrine, epirubicin, epotein alfa, eptifibatide, ertapenem, erythromycin, esmolol, etoposide, etoposide phosphate, famotidine, fenoldopam, fentanyl, filgrastim, fluconazole, fludarabine, fluorouracil, gemcitabine, gentamicin, glycopyrrolate, granisetron, heparin, hydrocortisone, idarubicin, ifosfamide, imipenem/cilastatin, irinotecan, isoproterenol, ketorolac, labetalol, levofloxacin, lidocaine, linezolid, lorazepam, magnesium sulfate, mannitol, mechlorethamine, melphalan, meperidine, metaraminol, methotrexate, methoxamine, methyldopate, methylprednisolone, metoclorpramide, metoprolol, metronidazole, milrinone, mitoxantrone, morphine, multivitamins, mycophenolate, nafcillin, nalbuphine, naloxone, nesiritide, nicardipine, nitroglycerin, nitroprusside, norepinephrine, octreotide, ondansetron, oxacillin, oxaliplatin, oxytocin, paclitaxel, palonosetron, pamidronate, pancruonium, papaverine, pemetrexed, penicillin G, pentazocine, phenobarbital, phentolamine, phenylephrine, phytonadione, piperacillin/tazobactam, potassium acetate, potassium chloride, procainamide, prochlorperazine, promethazine, propofol, propranolol, protamine, pyridoxime, quinupristin/dalfopristin, ranitidine, remifentanil, rituximab, rocuronium, sargramostim, sodium acetate, streptokinase, succinylcholine, sufentanil, tacrolimus, teniposide, theophylline, thiamine, thiotepa, ticarcillin/clavulanate, tigecycline, tirofiban, tobramycin, tolazoline, trastuzumab, trimethphan, vancomycin, vasopressin, vecuronium, verapamil, vincristine, vinorelbine, voriconazole, zoledronic acid
  • Y-Site Incompatibility: amphotericin B cholesteryl, amphotericin B colloidal, azathioprine, chloramphenicol, dantrolene, diazepam, diazoxide, furosemide, genciclovir, indomethacin, insulin, pantoprazole, pentamidine, pentobarbital, phenytoin, sodium bicarbonate, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Intranasal: Administer 1 spray in 1 nostril.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Instruct patient on how and when to ask for pain medication.
  • Medication may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Advise patient to call for assistance when ambulating and to avoid driving or other activities requiring alertness until response to the medication is known.
  • Encourage patients on bedrest to turn, cough, and deep-breathe every 2 hr to prevent atelectasis.
  • Instruct patient to change positions slowly to minimize orthostatic hypotension.
  • Caution patient to avoid concurrent use of alcohol or other CNS depressants with this medication.
  • Advise patient that good oral hygiene, frequent mouth rinses, and sugarless gum or candy may decrease dry mouth.
  • Intranasal: Instruct patient on proper use of nasal spray. See package insert for detailed instructions. Instruct patient to replace protective clip and clear cover after use and to store the unit in the child resistant container. Caution patient that medication should not be used by anyone other than the person for whom it was prescribed. Excess medication should be disposed of as soon as it is no longer needed. To dispose of, unscrew cap, rinse bottle and pump with water, and dispose of in waste can.
    • If 2-mg dose is prescribed, administer additional spray in other nostril. May cause dizziness and dysphoria. Patient should remain recumbent after administration of 2-mg dose until response to medication is known.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Decrease in severity of pain without a significant alteration in level of consciousness or respiratory status.
Drug Guide, © 2015 Farlex and Partners


A synthetic opioid drug, C21H29NO2, given by injection or nasal spray in its tartrate form to treat pain and to supplement anesthesia.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For surgical debridement, the patient was premedicated with butorphanol (1 mg/kg IM) and midazolam (1 mg/kg IM)), and anesthetic induction was performed with 4% sevoflurane administered by face mask.
A comparison of epidural Bupivacaine and Butorphanol 2 mg versus epidural Bupivacaine and butorphanol 4 mg for post operative analgesia focusing on Onset and duration of analgesia, Cardio respiratory effects, Adverse effects.
The sedation protocol comprised the drugs acepromazine (0.05mg/kg) and butorphanol (0.3mg/kg), which were administered intramuscularly, and 15 minutes after this, the SBP, ECG, and ECO were evaluated (M1).
A comparison of the sedative and analgesic properties of pethidine (meperidine) and butorphanol in dogs.
Smith, "Sedative and echocardiographic effects of dexmedetomidine combined with butorphanol in healthy dogs," Journal of Veterinary Cardiology, vol.
The preferred narcotics to use when breastfeeding are butorphanol, morphine, or hydromorphone.
Use of dexmedetomidine, tiletamine-zolazepam, and butorphanol (DTZB) resulted in an anesthetic occurrence of 91% (48/54) in all groups and 100% (36/36) at dexmedetomidine dosages of 0.2 to 0.6 mg/kg and tiletamine-zolazepam 20 to 40 mg/kg.
Butorphanol did not affect blood gas in another study in sheep [14], but potent opioids such as fentanyl can induce transient respiratory depression in this species [15].
Several options of opioids were proposed in their short- or long-acting versions, including codeine with or without acetaminophen, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, morphine, oxycodone with or without acetaminophen, tramadol with or without acetaminophen, butorphanol nasal spray, tapentadol, methadone, buprenorphine transdermal patch, and fentanyl transdermal patch.
The guinea pig underwent emergency surgery upon sedation with an association of butorphanol 0.7 mg/kg (Dolorex 10 mg/ml, MSD), medetomidine 0.07 mg/kg (Sedator 1,0 mg/ml, ATI), and ketamine 7 mg/kg (Imalgene 1000100 mg/ml, MERIAL) administrated intramuscularly.
(17,18) Nalbuphine and butorphanol should be avoided during opioid withdrawal because they antagonize opioid receptors and can precipitate withdrawal symptoms.
We immobilized study animals with either a combination of ketamine (5 mg/kg, Ketanil[R], Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Mexico, Mexico; 200 mg/mL) and medetomidine (0.08 mg/kg, Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado; 20 mg/mL), antagonized with atipamezole (0.35 mg/kg, Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Inc., 20 mg/mL); or a mix of butorphanol (0.4 mg/kg, Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Inc., 30 mg/ mL) combined with medetomidine (0.08 mg/kg) and azaperone (0.15 mg/kg, Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Inc., 50 mg/mL), antagonized with atipamezole (0.35 mg/kg) and naltrexone (3 mg/mg of butorphanol used, Trexonil[R], Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Mexico; 50 mg/mL).