Analgosedation with Ketamine in the ICU: What is the Evidence?


Ketamine’s success seems unstoppable:
​+++ Anaesthesiologists are opening private clinics for off-label infusions of ketamine for depression +++ Dr. Jim Roberts says #ketamine is an ideal treatment for excited #delirium: +++ Major #ketamine treatment trial to start in 2016 +++ More impressed every day with low dose ketamine for pain management!

Intravenous ketamine is also used in critical care units and to my knowledge most clinicians use ketamine as an adjunct to other sedatives. This might be for patients on mechanical ventilation, intubation procedures or simply as an additive to a patient-controlled analgesia pump. I personally think ketamine is one of the essentials in ICU’s, but what does the evidence say.

Asad et al. have performed a systematic review on the usage of ketamine as a continuous infusion (>24h) in intensive care patients. The aim was to find evidence in favour for the utilisation of ketamine in the ICU.

As a result of this review – current evidence suggests that:

– In critically ill postoperative patients ketamine has the potential to reduce the cumulative morphine consumption at 48h compared to morphine only

– Several trials show the potential safety of ketamine in regards of cerebral haemodynamics in patients with traumatic brain injury, improved gastrointestinal motility and decreased vasopressor requirements

– One observational study and case reports suggest that ketamine is safe, effective and may have a role in patients who are refractory to other therapies
​Our conclusion: THUMBS UP for ketamine in the ICU


Asad E. et al. J Intensive Care Med December 8, 2015


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