Conference Coverage

Ketamine infusions may be helpful in central sensitization pain syndromes



  • Spinal cord injury pain: Weak evidence for short-term benefit at doses of 0.42-0.4 mg/kg per hour ranging from 17 minutes to 5 hours for 7 consecutive days.
  • Complex regional pain syndrome: Moderate evidence for pain improvement up to 12 weeks at doses of 22 mg/hour for 4 days or 0.35 mg/kg per hour over 4 hours daily for 10 days.
  • Mixed neuropathic pain, phantom limb pain, postherpetic neuralgia, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, ischemic pain, migraine headache, and low-back pain: weak to no evidence.

Nevertheless, Dr. Joshi is a firm believer in ketamine’s benefit for pain patients, when it’s administered at appropriate doses by clinicians trained in anesthesia. “Our main clinic is in a surgical center and we administer ketamine under a surgical protocol. This is a powerful anesthetic and should be treated as such,” he said. Patients are risk-stratified with the Anesthesiology Society of America physical status classification system and constantly monitored during the infusions.

These kinds of precautions are not generally taken in the dozens of unregulated “ketamine clinics” continue to open across the country, Dr. Joshi said. “They’re typically not staffed by anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists, but by other providers without adequate training who may have only taken a weekend or online course in how to administer the drug.”

Dr. Joshi reported no disclosures relevant to his presentation.

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