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Anesth Analg. 2004 Aug;99(2):482-95, table of contents.

Ketamine as adjuvant analgesic to opioids: a quantitative and qualitative systematic review.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care & Pain Management, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Animal studies on ketamine and opioid tolerance have shown promising results. Clinical trials have been contradictory. We performed a systematic review of randomized, double-blind clinical trials of ketamine added to opioid analgesia. Thirty-seven trials with 51 treatment arms and 2385 patients were included. Studies were divided into 5 subgroups: IV ketamine as single dose (n = 11), continuous infusion (n = 11), patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) (n = 6), epidural ketamine with opioids (n = 8), and studies in children (n = 4). Outcome measures included pain scores, time to first request for analgesia, supplemental analgesics, and adverse events. Efficacy was estimated by statistical significance (P < 0.05) of outcome measures as reported in studies and also by calculation of weighted mean difference for pain scores during the first 24 h after surgery. As compared to morphine alone, IV PCA with ketamine and morphine did not improve analgesia. Intravenous infusion of ketamine decreased IV and epidural opioid requirements in 6 of 11 studies. A single bolus dose of ketamine decreased opioid requirements in 7 of 11 studies. Five of 8 trials with epidural ketamine showed beneficial effects. Adverse effects were not increased with small dose ketamine. We conclude that small dose ketamine is a safe and useful adjuvant to standard practice opioid-analgesia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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