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Hong Kong Med J. 2010 Feb;16(1):6-11.

Emergency department presentation of ketamine abusers in Hong Kong: a review of 233 cases.

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  • 1Hong Kong Poison Information Centre, United Christian Hospital, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong.



To study the acute clinical presentations of ketamine abusers in Hong Kong.


Retrospective chart review.


Fifteen accident and emergency departments in Hong Kong.


Consultations associated with recent ketamine use either confirmed by history or urine test were searched for from the database of the Hospital Authority Hong Kong Poison Information Centre from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2008. Their medical records and investigation results were analysed.


A total of 233 records of ketamine use were included for review. Patient ages ranged from 13 to 60, with a median of 22 years, and the male-to-female ratio being 2.1:1. The most common symptoms of ketamine misuse were impaired consciousness (45%), abdominal pain (21%), lower urinary tract symptoms (12%), and dizziness (12%). The most common abnormal physical findings were high blood pressure (40%), followed by tachycardia (39%), abdominal tenderness (18%), and white powder in the nostrils (17%).


Most ketamine abusers presented acutely with transient central nervous system depression, abdominal pain, or lower urinary tract symptoms. Clinicians should be alert to the typical age-group, signs and symptoms of such abusers presenting in an acute medical setting.

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