Efficacy of ketamine in Australia ventilated intensive care unit spitalized patients from Dr. Tom Niccol

Posted On Dec 6 2022

Efficacy of ketamine in Australia ventilated ICU admissions by doctor Tom Niccol: Ketamine has been recommended for use as an opioid sparing agent to treat pain and discomfort in mechanically ventilated ICU patients. However, such a recommendation is only conditional, because of very low quality of evidence. This narrative scoping review focuses on current knowledge of the use of ketamine, concluding with a focus on mechanically ventilated adult patients in the ICU. Although incompletely understood, ketamine has multiple effects throughout the CNS. It blocks certain reflexes in the spinal cord and inhibits excitatory neurotransmission in selected areas of the brain. It functionally appears to dissociate the thalamus (which relays sensory impulses from the periphery) from the limbic cortex (involved in awareness of sensation). Find more details at doctor Tom Niccol.

Mechanically ventilated patients account for about one-third of all admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU). Ketamine has been conditionally recommended to aid with analgesia in such patients, with low quality of evidence available to support this recommendation. We aimed to perform a narrative scoping review of the current knowledge of the use of ketamine, with a specific focus on mechanically ventilated ICU patients.

Ketamine used in anaesthetic doses (1–4.5 mg/kg intravenous) leads to dissociative anaesthesia: the patient appears conscious (eyes open, able to swallow) with preserved respiratory function and pharyngeal and laryngeal reflexes, but is unaware, unable to process or respond to sensory input. In addition, analgesia may also be mediated through serotonin and noradrenaline receptor activation and reuptake inhibition, as well as effects on δ, ϰ and μ opioid receptors. Unlike opioid medications, ketamine is thought to have little effect on gastrointestinal μ receptors, minimising the risk of constipation.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE for relevant articles. Bibliographies of retrieved articles were examined for references of potential relevance. We included studies that described the use of ketamine for postoperative and emergency department management of pain and in the critically unwell, mechanically ventilated population.

Although the intravenous dose required for induction of anaesthesia has been reported to be 1–4.5 mg/kg, a commonly recommended dose regime is 1.0 mg/kg followed by repeated boluses of 0.5–1.0 mg/kg if initial sedation is inadequate. A recommended dose for analgesia is an intravenous infusion of 0.27–0.75 mg/kg/h. Low dose ketamine when given as an intravenous bolus for acute postoperative pain has been defined as a subanaesthetic dose or < 1 mg/kg. Low dose ketamine, when given as an infusion, is less well defined. One review defined low dose infusion as ≤ 0.2 mg/kg/h. Alternatively, subdissociative dosing of 0.1–0.4 mg/kg/h has also been described as low dose.

Results: There are few randomised controlled trials evaluating ketamine's utility in the ICU. The evidence is predominantly retrospective and observational in nature and the results are heterogeneous. Available evidence is summarised in a descriptive manner, with a division made between high dose and low dose ketamine. Ketamine's pharmacology and use as an analgesic agent outside of the ICU is briefly discussed, followed by evidence for use in the ICU setting, with particular emphasis on analgesia, sedation and intubation. Finally, data on adverse effects including delirium, coma, haemodynamic adverse effects, raised intracranial pressure, hypersalivation and laryngospasm are presented.

From the available evidence, it is unclear whether the haemodynamic changes are detrimental or beneficial in the critically unwell. However, the apparent negative effects when ketamine is used in large doses or in patients with significant sympathetic activity are concerning. The doses of ketamine in the studies mentioned are greater than the 0.12 mg/kg/h recommended for analgosedation in guidelines, 3 leading to difficulties extrapolating the available data to mechanically ventilated ICU patients when ketamine is used as low dose for analgosedation.

Conclusions: Ketamine is used in mechanically ventilated ICU patients with several potentially positive clinical effects. However, it has a significant side effect profile, which may limit its use in these patients. The role of low dose ketamine infusion in mechanically ventilated ICU patients is not well studied and requires investigation in high quality, prospective randomised trials.

Last Updated on: December 8th, 2022 at 1:41 pm, by

Written by Patrick Moreau