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Keywords:

  • Ketamine;
  • Treatment;
  • Refractory status epilepticus;
  • Anesthetics;
  • Antiepileptic drugs

Summary

Purpose

To examine patterns of use, efficacy, and safety of intravenous ketamine for the treatment of refractory status epilepticus (RSE).

Methods

Multicenter retrospective review of medical records and electroencephalography (EEG) reports in 10 academic medical centers in North America and Europe, including 58 subjects, representing 60 episodes of RSE that were identified between 1999 and 2012. Seven episodes occurred after anoxic brain injury.

Key Findings

Permanent control of RSE was achieved in 57% (34 of 60) of episodes. Ketamine was felt to have contributed to permanent control (“possible” or “likely” responses) in 32% (19 of 60) including seven (12%) in which ketamine was the last drug added (likely responses). Four of the seven likely responses, but none of the 12 possible ones, occurred in patients with postanoxic brain injury. No likely responses were observed when infusion rates were lower than 0.9 mg/kg/h, when ketamine was introduced at least 8 days after SE onset, or after failure of seven or more drugs. Ketamine was discontinued due to possible adverse events in five patients. Complications were mostly attributed to concurrent drugs, especially other anesthetics. Mortality rate was 43% (26 of 60), but was lower when SE was controlled within 24 h of ketamine initiation (16% vs. 56%, p = 0.0047).

Significance

Ketamine appears to be a relatively effective and safe drug for the treatment of RSE. This retrospective series provides preliminary data on effective dose and appropriate time of intervention to aid in the design of a prospective trial to further define the role of ketamine in the treatment of RSE.