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Ketamine

Generic Name: ketamine (KET a meen)
Brand Name: Ketalar

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Aug 14, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is an anesthetic medication.

Ketamine is used to put you to sleep for surgery and to prevent pain and discomfort during certain medical tests or procedures.

Ketamine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not be treated with ketamine if you have untreated or uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).

Tell your caregivers at once if you have serious side effects within 24 hours after you receive ketamine, including severe confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts, or extreme fear.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive ketamine if you are allergic to it, or if you have untreated or uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart disease;

  • high blood pressure;

  • alcoholism; or

  • if you drink large amounts of alcohol.

Ketamine may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Anesthesia medicine may affect brain development in a child under 3, or an unborn baby whose mother receives ketamine during late pregnancy. These effects may be more likely when the anesthesia is used for 3 hours or longer, or used for repeated procedures. Effects on brain development could cause learning or behavior problems later in life.

Negative brain effects from anesthesia have been seen in animal studies. However, studies in human children receiving single short uses of anesthesia have not shown a likely effect on behavior or learning. More research is needed.

In some cases, your doctor may decide to postpone a surgery or procedure based on these risks. Treatment may not be delayed in the case of life-threatening conditions, medical emergencies, or surgery needed to correct certain birth defects.

Ask your doctor for information about all medicines that will be used during your surgery or procedure. Also ask how long the procedure will last.

It may not be safe to breast-feed shortly after receiving this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

How is ketamine given?

Ketamine is injected into a muscle, or as an infusion into a vein. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.

Your breathing, blood pressure, heart function, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving ketamine.

You may feel strange or slightly confused when you first come out of anesthesia. Tell your caregivers if these feelings are severe or unpleasant.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since ketamine is usually given for anesthesia, you are not likely to be on a dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

Since ketamine is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur. Your vital signs will be closely watched while you are under anesthesia to make sure the medication is not causing any harmful effects.

What should I avoid after receiving ketamine?

ketamine may impair your thinking or reactions. You will probably not be allowed to drive yourself home after your surgery or medical procedure. Avoid driving or operating machinery for at least 24 hours after you have received ketamine.

Ketamine side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers at once if you have any of these serious side effects within 24 hours after you receive ketamine: severe confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts, or extreme fear.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • painful or difficult urination, increased urination, loss of bladder control, blood in your urine;

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • slow heart rate, weak or shallow breathing; or

  • jerky muscle movements that may look like convulsions.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ketamine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Anesthesia:

IV:
-Induction: 1 to 4.5 mg/kg IV; alternatively, 1 to 2 mg/kg IV at a rate of 0.5 mg/kg/min; (2 mg/kg dose provides 5 to 10 minutes of surgical anesthesia within 30 seconds)
-Maintenance: The maintenance dose should be adjusted according to the patient's anesthetic needs and whether an additional anesthetic is employed. Increments of one-half to the full induction dose may be repeated as needed for maintenance of anesthesia.

IM:
-Induction: 6.5 to 13 mg/kg IM; (9 to 13 mg/kg IM provides 12 to 25 minutes of surgical anesthesia)
-Maintenance: The maintenance dose should be adjusted according to the patient's anesthetic needs and whether an additional anesthetic is employed. Increments of one-half to the full induction dose may be repeated as needed for maintenance of anesthesia.

Comments:
-This drug should be administered slowly over a period of 60 seconds (more rapid administration may result in respiratory depression and enhanced pressor response).
-The larger the total dose, the longer will be complete recovery.
-Because of rapid induction following the initial IV injection, the patient should be in a supported position during administration.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Anesthesia:

16 years and older: See adult dosing

What other drugs will affect ketamine?

If you are using any drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing, it may take you longer to recover from anesthesia with ketamine. This includes opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.

Other drugs may affect ketamine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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