What is Ketamine: Medical Use

Ketamine has a long history of medical use and the research to date supports ketamine as a safe and effective medication when administered by appropriately-trained medical professionals, such as anesthesiologists. It is an FDA-approved, and legal drug. It is one of the most commonly used medications throughout the world today.1 This anesthetic drug has been used in very high doses in operating rooms throughout the world on a daily basis for decades.

Here are some of the most common medical uses of ketamine:

It is used so widely, and for some of most vulnerable patients because of its relatively safe profile. Ketamine works an anesthetic by causing disassociation – which is a feeling of being separate and a part from one’s body and physical surroundings – but it leaves the patient’s spontaneous breathing intact. It is often the drug of choice for very young and very old patients undergoing procedures. It is often a key anesthetic agent for operating theaters in parts of the world where equipment is minimal or substandard.

Because of its relatively safe profile and relative ease of use by trained professionals, it is also used extensively in veterinary medicine. This is why ketamine is often referred to as a “horse tranquilizer” in the popular press. It is, in fact, used as an anesthetic agent by veterinarians for horses and other animals, although it is a gross oversimplification to reduce the drug to that label.

There is increasing study on the use of ketamine for mood disorders and for chronic pain. Much of this work has been done since approximately the year 2000. Most of the early studies have included small numbers of participants. However, increasingly there are studies and data analysis with larger patient sizes. A recent report published in May, 2017 in the Nature Journal, Scientific Reports,2 included an analysis of a very large data set of 8 million reports, and showed that patients who received ketamine had: “significantly lower frequency of reports of depression” and “significantly lower frequency of reports of pain.”

Ketamine has a long history as a particularly useful anesthetic drug, and increasingly demonstrates significant results in studies and clinical practice as a treatment for pain conditions such as CRPS/RSD and for mood disorders including depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

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1. WHO Fact file on ketamine March 2016

2. Cohen et al., “Population scale data reveals the antidepressant effects of ketamine and other therapeutics approved for non-psychiatric indications.” Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 1450 (2017)
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About Me, Dr Allison Wells: I started Lone Star Infusion to provide infusion therapies for depression, PTSD, pain and more – focused on ketamine infusion therapy and focused on Houston and surrounding areas of Texas. I am a licensed, board-certified anesthesiologist. I am super passionate about being a partner in helping people feel their best with evidence-based medicine.

An Important Disclaimer: The information in this and other blog posts represents my informed opinion or the opinion of others, and does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied upon to make decisions regarding medical care. To address the specific details of your medical conditions and treatments please speak with your doctors.

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