What is Ketamine and Ketamine Infusions?

Ketamine is a prescription drug and a controlled substance, primarily used as an anesthetic during surgical procedures. Ketamine infusions involve the release of Ketamine directly into the bloodstream.

Ketamine was initially developed in 1963 as a veterinary anesthetic. Its promising results in animals triggered clinical trial in humans and led to a conclusion that it is as effective as it was in animals.

Ketamine infusions have shown effective control of acute pain, neuropathic pain, pain caused by cancer, and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)/RSD. Ketamine infusions are also being used in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine is known as a “dissociative anesthetic”, which means that this drug can induce general anesthesia (though when induced, the patient remains awake), catatonia (loss of control over voluntary movement), and transient amnesia (loss of memory). Ketamine can distort perception of sight and sound (auditory and visual hallucinations) and produces feeling of detachment from one’s self and the environment. Because of this, Ketamine has been placed on the list of controlled substances in the US because of its tendency to be used for recreation and potential for substance abuse. Ketamine can cause death in high, unsupervised doses.

Treating Severe Depression with Ketamine Infusions

A randomized controlled trial conducted by Murrough et al in 2013 concluded that Ketamine “demonstrated rapid antidepressant effects in an optimized study design, further supporting ketamine as a novel mechanism for accelerated improvement in severe and chronic forms of depression.”

The rapid onset of action brought about by Ketamine is an advantage being used by clinicians in treating severe depression, particularly in patients with suicidal ideation. Ketamine has demonstrated improved mood in patients who are deemed unresponsive to conventional anti-depressant regimen – such as antidepressants, talk therapy, counseling, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and ECT. Patients are thought to benefit from series of ketamine infusions.

Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with Ketamine Infusions

In a small, open-label trial by Rodriguez from Columbia, it was thought that the “dysregulation of excitatory glutamate receptors appears to play a role in obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Ketamine was administered to 15 randomized patients and demonstrated immediate and dramatic decreases in their obsessive-compulsive urges just after a 40-minute ketamine infusion. Although deemed effective, its exact mechanism of action on how it works in OCD is still not known.

Treating Chronic Pain with Ketamine Infusions

Ketamine infusions are used to treat therapy-resistant chronic pain syndromes. Blonk et al published an article in the European Journal of Pain, about the “Use of Oral Ketamine in Chronic Pain Management.” They listed all available clinical data regarding the use of Ketamine Infusions in the therapeutic management of chronic pain in several disease conditions. These include the following:

  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Peripheral Nerve Damage
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Chronic cancer pain
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia (facial pain)
  • Diabetic neuropathies
  • Post Herpetic Neuralgia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Post-Amputation stump pain
  • Glossopharyngeal neuralgia

What are the possible side effects?

Ketamine may cause common and even serious side effects, depending on the dosage administered, some of which may require immediate medical attention. The most common side effects of the use of Ketamine are:

  • Nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Double vision
  • Jerky muscle movements
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Delirium
  • Euphoria (intense feeling of elation, happiness, excitement and joy)

How are Ketamine Infusions Given?

Ketamine can be given in many routes, but it is most effective when given through an IV. Before your infusion Dr. Patel will give you a comprehensive physical and neurological exam to determine the appropriate dosage and duration of your treatment. During the infusion your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels will be monitored. Some patients feel better during their infusion and other patients experience improvement in their mood or pain symptoms within a few days!

What are the Expected Results from Ketamine Infusion Therapy?

It is expected that patients who would receive ketamine infusion therapy would enjoy immediate pain relief and comfort that are not usually attained from traditional forms of pain treatment.

Ketamine’s rapid therapeutic effect also allows effective management of depression and obsessive-compulsive urges. This gives patients a more stable mood control and even save them from suicidal ideation.

Outcomes of both conditions treated with Ketamine infusions ultimately allow patients to receive cost-efficient plan of care and achieve a better quality of life.

Our Doctor

At the Delmarva Pain and Spine Center our physician, Dr. Shachi Patel specializes in using Ketamine to treatment a variety of conditions that range from severe depression to chronic pain and peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Patel is an expert in diagnosing and treating patients with conditions where a Ketamine Infusion may be the best treatment for an individual patient. If you suffer from severe treatment resistant depression, chronic pain, CRPS, pelvic pain, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or anxiety and need a specialist who is known for their expertise in using Ketamine to treat a variety of conditions contact us today at 302-355-0900.

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