Ketamine, The Wonder Drug!

By Geoff Murphy

By Geoff Murphy

Ketamine, The Wonder Drug!

What's so great about ketamine?

Oh Ketamine, what a wonderful drug. First time I heard about it was in the movie Armageddon when some NASA scientist claimed it was a horse tranquilizer.

Ketamine has come pretty far since that movie came out in 1998. It is true it was used in large animals first.( like 95% of medications these days). Since then It was used with great success on kids with respiratory distress and failure also Widely popular in military medicine. These days it is trusted for the crashing respiratory patient in  North America. 

Recently Ketamine has been studied to treat depression as well! You can read about that here! 

Ketamine: The Future of Depression Treatment?

How does it work?

- Ketamine acts primarily as an antagonist of the NMDA receptor to cause a catecholamine release. 

- Essentially the key reactions Ketamine does have is that it causes bronchial smooth muscle relaxation, and stimulates Beta 1 receptors in the heart. Causing Increased heart rate, contraction strength, and systolic blood pressure.

Why is it so popular? 

- Biggest upside is it is the only common sedative that will not cause significant hypotension. 

- Another huge upside is its bronchodilator effects. Huge success as a sedative for the crashing respiratory patient or hypotensive patient who needs to be intubated.


Typically the dose ranges from .5mg - 1.5mg/kg. Given slow IV push or infusion. 


- Ketamine is not recommended for septic patients as it relies on catecholamine release. Typically septic patients don't have much left to spare as they are using so much energy to fight an infection.

- Can be addictive


Textbook references 

Lippincott Illustrated Reviews: Pharmacology 

by Karen Whalen PharmD BCPS (Author) 


Critical Care Paramedic 

by Bryan E. Bledsoe (Author), Randall W. Benner (Author)


**Caution** medical videos, blog posts, medical illustrations, and medical animations are for medical educational and exam preparation purposes, and not intended to replace recommendations by your health care provider.


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