Tramadol cannot be detected on the standard SAMHSA-5 screening tests. An advanced panel of screening is needed for detecting Tramadol. Some tests that are used for Tramadol include urine tests, saliva tests, hair tests, and blood tests.
Urine tests involve the collection of urine samples of a Tramadol user. The sample is then sent to the laboratory for testing. It is analyzed by Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) for the determination of constituents of the drug. Mostly, the metabolites M1 and M2 contribute a greater percentage in the urine samples. They start to appear within two hours of the last dose. The metabolites remain detectable in the samples for about 40 hours after the administration of at least 12.5 pg dose of Tramadol.
Tramadol can sometimes produce false results on a Phencyclidine (PCP) screening test. Though it is not a common problem but a person should be aware of the incidence of false-positive results.
They are also the commonly employed tests for Tramadol. The hair samples from the head are collected and sent to the laboratory for hair analysis. The size should be at least 3 cm to improve the accuracy of results. The drug remains detectable for longer durations by using a technique, ‘liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS)’. The technique is capable of revealing N-desmethyltramadol (NDMT) and O-desmethyltramadol (ODMT) in the hair samples. An accuracy of 90 % has been reported by many laboratories performing the hair tests.
In cases of abuse, high concentrations of Tramadol and its metabolites (about 0.22-1.18ng/mg) are observed in hair samples. A person following a proper medical prescription will also exhibit drug but in a minor quantity of about 0.07-0.80ng/mg. Due to minimal invasiveness, long detection window, and high accuracy, hair analysis is a popular testing modality in cases of Tramadol consumption.
This involves the collection of fluid from the oral cavity. The sample is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. The Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) is used to analyze the collected fluid. The technique allows the accurate determination of levels of M1 and M2. The research data has demonstrated the presence of about 90% drug in the oral samples. Moreover, the drug remains detectable for more than 24 hours.
A new modality ‘Exhaled Breathing’ has also emerged. It is even less invasive than the oral fluid tests. A breathalyzer device is used to detect the presence of drug in the breath of a person. Tramadol and its metabolites are demonstrable in breath for up to 24 hours after the last dose.
The blood samples are also taken for identifying the levels of drug. The drug appears rapidly in the circulation and becomes demonstrable in the samples. One hour is taken by the drug to reach the concentration, which is readily detectable by blood tests. The drug stays up to 24 hours in the blood. However, the invasiveness and shorter period of detection have reserved its use on certain occasions only. It is used in the hospital settings to measure the precise levels in cases of intoxication and overdose.