• phencyclidine derivative hypnotic and analgesic


  • NMDA receptor antagonist resulting in dissociative anaesthesia (profound analgesia with superficial sleep)
  • interacts with opioid receptors – mu, delta and kappa
  • muscarinic receptors – partial antagonist effect (bronchodilation, sympathomimetic, delirium)
  • Na+ channel – mild LA like properties


  • colourless solution, 10/50/100mg/mL, racemic, benzethonium chloride (preservative)


  • IV, IM or PO, extradural, intrethcal, rectal or nasal
  • IM – 10mg/kg (6min onset)
  • IV – 2mg/kg (30 sec onset) or rate of 50mcg/kg/min
  • analgesic dose: 0.1-0.3mg/kg -> 0.1mg/kg/hr


  • induction of anaesthesia and emergency intubation
    • asthma
    • hypotension/ haemodynamic instability (e.g. trauma, sepsis)
    • severe metabolic acidosis (allowing spontaneous ventilation)
    • delayed sequence intubation to allow preoxygenation with spontaneous ventilation
  • procedural sedation (especially for children, prehospital, and in mass casualties)
  • analgesia – perioperative and chronic pain
  • severe unresponsive asthma (bronchodilator)
  • refractory status epilepticus
  • controversial role in the treatment of depression


  • salivation
  • increased ICP (although newer data questions this)
  • PONV
  • emergence delirium -> hallucinations


  • Absorption – bioavailability = 20%
  • Distribution – t1/2 alpha = 10 min, 50% protein bound, Vd 1.8L/kg
  • Metabolism – hepatic, some active metabolites
  • Elimination – t1/2 beta = 2.5 hrs, urinary


  • Ketamine can be used for refractory status epilepticus (observational studies suggest ketamine is an effective option for refractory status epilepticus due to antagonism of excitotoxic NMDA receptors) (Hofler and Trinka, 2018)

References and links

  • Höfler J, Trinka E. Intravenous ketamine in status epilepticus. Epilepsia. 2018;59 Suppl 2:198-206. [pubmed]

CCC 700 6

Critical Care


Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

One comment

  1. Hi!

    Thank you for this great summary regarding Ketamine!
    I’m trying to find out through which mechanism Ketamine causes hypersalivation. Would you mind helping me please?
    Thank you!
    Betul Korkmaz

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