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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1983 Jun 15;146(4):429-34.

Ketamine, catecholamines, and uterine tone in pregnant ewes.


Blood levels of ketamine, measured in both mother (1,230 ng/ml at 1 minute) and fetus (470 ng/ml at 1 minute) illustrate not only rapidly decreasing levels of the drug after its intravenous administration but also its transplacental passage. Concentrations of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine did not change in the mother or fetus after ketamine, with the exception of maternal levels of epinephrine, which were significantly higher at 45 minutes than control values (p less than 0.05). Maternal effects of ketamine consisted of increases in mean arterial pressure (7% p less than 0.05), cardiac output (16% p less than 0.01), and respiratory acidosis, all of which were slight and transitory. Although resting uterine tone increased (39% p less than 0.01), the uterine blood flow remained constant. None of the physiologic alterations could be correlated with changes in catecholamine levels. Therefore, the cardiovascular and uterine stimulating properties of ketamine at a dose of 0.7 mg/kg are small and are not the result of increased catecholamine levels in plasma. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanism.

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