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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2018 May 18:1-8. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2018.1469704. [Epub ahead of print]

Intravenous Low-Dose Ketamine Provides Greater Pain Control Compared to Fentanyl in a Civilian Prehospital Trauma System: A Propensity Matched Analysis.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

A few studies report comparable analgesic efficacy between low-dose ketamine and opioids such as morphine or fentanyl; however, limited research has explored the safety and effectiveness of intravenous low-dose ketamine as a primary analgesic in a civilian prehospital setting. The objective of this study is to compare pain control between low-dose ketamine and fentanyl when administered intravenously (IV) for the indication of severe pain.

METHODS:

This was a retrospective, observational review of prehospital adult patients (≥18 years) who presented with severe pain (numeric rating scale, 7-10) and were treated solely with either low-dose ketamine IV or fentanyl IV between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016. Propensity matched analysis was performed adjusting for all baseline variables with p ≤ 0.10 and for baseline pain score to match ketamine and fentanyl patients on a one-to-one ratio. The primary outcome was change in pain score from baseline to after treatment and evaluated with a paired t-test. Secondary outcomes were changes in vital signs and Glasgow coma scale (GCS) from baseline to after treatment, as well as incidence of clinically significant adverse events (AEs); AEs were followed from scene arrival through emergency department discharge.

RESULTS:

Propensity matched analysis produced 79 matched pairs. Ketamine IV patients, receiving a mean (SD) dose of 0.3 (0.1) mg/kg, showed a significantly larger mean decrease in pain after treatment, compared to the fentanyl IV patients (-5.5 (3.1) vs. -2.5 (2.4), p < 0.001). A significantly greater proportion of patients receiving ketamine IV achieved at least a 50% reduction in pain compared to those receiving fentanyl IV (67% vs. 19%, p < 0.001), marking 52 ketamine IV patients as responders to treatment. Vital signs demonstrated a nonsignificant decrease in blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, and GCS. No clinically significant AEs were reported for patients receiving ketamine IV.

CONCLUSION:

The significant reduction in pain, significantly high proportion of ketamine responders, and the lack of clinically significant AEs characterizing patients receiving low-dose ketamine IV compared to fentanyl IV, all provide further support for its use as an effective prehospital analgesic.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Level III, therapeutic.

KEYWORDS:

fentanyl; intravenous; low-dose ketamine; pain control; prehospital

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