INTRODUCTION: Opioids carry high risk of dependence, and patients can rapidly build tolerance after repetitive dosing. Low-dose ketamine is an analgesic agent alternative that provides more hemodynamic stability. We sought to describe the effects of prolonged ketamine use in non-burn patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We queried the electronic health system at the Brooke Army Medical Center for patient encounters with ketamine infusions lasting >72 hours. We abstracted data describing demographics, vital signs, ketamine infusion dose and duration, and discharge diagnoses potentially relevant to ketamine side effects. RESULTS: We identified 194 subjects who met the study inclusion criteria. The median age was 39 years, most were male (67.0%), and most were primarily admitted for a non-trauma reason (59.2%). The mean ketamine drip strength was 43.9 mg/h (95% CI, 36.7-51.1; range 0.1-341.6) and the mean drip length was 130.8 hours (95% CI, 120.3-141.2; range 71-493). Most subjects underwent mechanical ventilation (56.1%) at some point during the infusion and most survived to hospital discharge (83.5%). On a per-day basis, the average heart rate was 93 beats per minute, systolic blood pressure was 128 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure was 71 mmHg, oxygen saturation was 96%, and respiratory rate was 22 respirations per minute. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that continuous ketamine infusions provide a useful adjunct for analgesia and/or sedation. Further development of this adjunct modality may serve as an alternative agent to opioids.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health