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The Use of Continuous Ketamine for Analgesia and Sedation in Critically Ill Patients with Opioid Abuse: A Case Series

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2017-0026

Managing pain and agitation in patients with opioid abuse is becoming more common in intensive care units. Tolerance to commonly used agents is often observed, leading to inadequate pain control and increased agitation. Ketamine’s unique mechanism of action and opioid-sparing effects make it an ideal agent for patients with suboptimal response to opioid therapy.
This report describes our experience using continuous ketamine infusions for analgesia and sedation in four mechanically ventilated patients with histories of opioid abuse that had suboptimal response to standard therapy. Ketamine was successful in improving analgesia and sedation in three patients while reducing the need for other analgesics and sedatives with minimal adverse effects.
Continuous ketamine infusions may be useful to facilitate mechanical ventilation in patients with histories of opioid abuse with minimal toxicity. More information is needed on the optimal dose and titration parameters.

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