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Ketamine (Ketamine Hydrochloride) - Indications and Dosage



Ketamine hydrochloride injection is indicated as the sole anesthetic agent for diagnostic and surgical procedures that do not require skeletal muscle relaxation. Ketamine hydrochloride injection is best suited for short procedures but it can be used, with additional doses, for longer procedures.

Ketamine hydrochloride injection is indicated for the induction of anesthesia prior to the administration of other general anesthetic agents.

Ketamine hydrochloride injection is indicated to supplement low-potency agents, such as nitrous oxide.

Specific areas of application are described in the CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY section.


Parenteral drug products should be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration, whenever solution and container permit.

Note: Barbiturates and ketamine, being chemically incompatible because of precipitate formation, should not be injected from the same syringe.

If the ketamine dose is augmented with diazepam, the two drugs must be given separately. Do not mix ketamine hydrochloride and diazepam in syringe or infusion flask. For additional information on the use of diazepam, refer to the WARNINGS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION sections of the diazepam insert.

Preoperative Preparations

  1. While vomiting has been reported following ketamine administration, some airway protection may be afforded because of active laryngeal-pharyngeal reflexes. However, since aspiration may occur with ketamine and since protective reflexes may also be diminished by supplementary anesthetics and muscle relaxants, the possibility of aspiration must be considered. Ketamine is recommended for use in the patient whose stomach is not empty when, in the judgment of the practitioner, the benefits of the drug outweigh the possible risks.

  2. Atropine, scopolamine, or another drying agent should be given at an appropriate interval prior to induction.

Onset and Duration

Because of rapid induction following the initial intravenous injection, the patient should be in a supported position during administration.

The onset of action of ketamine is rapid; an intravenous dose of 2 mg/kg (1 mg/lb) of body weight usually produces surgical anesthesia within 30 seconds after injection, with the anesthetic effect usually lasting five to ten minutes. If a longer effect is desired, additional increments can be administered intravenously or intramuscularly to maintain anesthesia without producing significant cumulative effects.

Intramuscular doses, in a range of 9 to13 mg/kg (4 to 6 mg/lb) usually produce surgical anesthesia within 3 to 4 minutes following injection, with the anesthetic effect usually lasting 12 to 25 minutes.


As with other general anesthetic agents, the individual response to ketamine is somewhat varied depending on the dose, route of administration, and age of patient, so that dosage recommendation cannot be absolutely fixed. The drug should be titrated against the patient’s requirements.


Intravenous Route: The initial dose of ketamine administered intravenously may range from 1 mg/kg to 4.5 mg/kg (0.5 to 2 mg/lb). The average amount required to produce five to ten minutes of surgical anesthesia has been 2 mg/kg (1 mg/lb).

Alternatively, in adult patients an induction dose of 1 mg to 2 mg/kg intravenous ketamine at a rate of 0.5 mg/kg/min may be used for induction of anesthesia. In addition, diazepam in 2 mg to 5 mg doses, administered in a separate syringe over 60 seconds, may be used. In most cases, 15 mg of intravenous diazepam or less will suffice. The incidence of psychological manifestations during emergence, particularly dream-like observations and emergence delirium, may be reduced by this induction dosage program.

Note: The 100 mg/mL concentration of ketamine should not be injected intravenously without proper dilution. It is recommended the drug be diluted with an equal volume of either Sterile Water for Injection, Sodium Chloride Injection, 0.9% or Dextrose Injection, 5%.

Rate of Administration: It is recommended that ketamine be administered slowly (over a period of 60 seconds). More rapid administration may result in respiratory depression and enhanced pressor response.

Intramuscular Route: The initial dose of ketamine administered intramuscularly may range from 6.5 to 13 mg/kg (3 to 6 mg/lb). A dose of 10 mg/kg (5 mg/lb) will usually produce 12 to 25 minutes of surgical anesthesia.

Maintenance of Anesthesia

The maintenance dose should be adjusted according to the patient’s anesthetic needs and whether an additional anesthetic agent is employed.

Increments of one-half to the full induction dose may be repeated as needed for maintenance of anesthesia. However, it should be noted that purposeless and tonic-clonic movements of extremities may occur during the course of anesthesia. These movements do not imply a light plane and are not indicative of the need for additional doses of the anesthetic.

It should be recognized that the larger the total dose of ketamine administered, the longer will be the time to complete recovery.

Adult patients induced with ketamine augmented with intravenous diazepam may be maintained on ketamine given by slow microdrip infusion technique at a dose of 0.1 to 0.5 mg/minute, augmented with diazepam 2 to 5 mg administered intravenously as needed. In many cases 20 mg or less of intravenous diazepam total for combined induction and maintenance will suffice. However, slightly more diazepam may be required depending on the nature and duration of the operation, physical status of the patient, and other factors. The incidence of psychological manifestations during emergence, particularly dream-like observations and emergence delirium, may be reduced by this maintenance dosage program.

Dilution: To prepare a dilute solution containing 1 mg of ketamine per mL, aseptically transfer 10 mL (50 mg per mL vial) or 5 mL (100 mg per mL vial) to 500 mL of Dextrose Injection, 5% or Sodium Chloride Injection, 0.9% and mix well. The resultant solution will contain 1 mg of ketamine per mL.

The fluid requirements of the patient and duration of anesthesia must be considered when selecting the appropriate dilution of ketamine hydrochloride injection. If fluid restriction is required, ketamine hydrochloride injection can be added to a 250 mL infusion as described above to provide a ketamine concentration of 2 mg/mL.

Supplementary Agents

Ketamine is clinically compatible with the commonly used general and local anesthetic agents when an adequate respiratory exchange is maintained.

The regimen of a reduced dose of ketamine supplemented with diazepam can be used to produce balanced anesthesia by combination with other agents such as nitrous oxide and oxygen.


Ketamine Hydrochloride Injection, USP is supplied as the hydrochloride in concentrations equivalent to ketamine base.

NDC Number
Fliptop Vial
50 mg/mL
10 mL
Box of 10

Color of solution may vary from colorless to very slightly yellowish and may darken upon prolonged exposure to light. This darkening does not affect potency. Do not use if a precipitate appears.

Store at 20 to 25°C (68 to 77°F). [See USP Controlled Room Temperature.]

Protect from light.



The acute toxicity of ketamine has been studied in several species. In mature mice and rats, the intraperitoneal LD50 values are approximately 100 times the average human intravenous dose and approximately 20 times the average human intramuscular dose. A slightly higher acute toxicity observed in neonatal rats was not sufficiently elevated to suggest an increased hazard when used in children. Daily intravenous injections in rats of five times the average human intravenous dose and intramuscular injections in dogs at four times the average human intramuscular dose demonstrated excellent tolerance for as long as 6 weeks. Similarly, twice weekly anesthetic sessions of one, three, or six hours’ duration in monkeys over a four- to six-week period were well tolerated.

Interaction with other Drugs Commonly Used for Preanesthetic Medication

Large doses (three or more times the equivalent effective human dose) of morphine, meperidine, and atropine increased the depth and prolonged the duration of anesthesia produced by a standard anesthetizing dose of ketamine in Rhesus monkeys. The prolonged duration was not of sufficient magnitude to contraindicate the use of these drugs for preanesthetic medication in human clinical trials.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure responses to ketamine vary with the laboratory species and experimental conditions. Blood pressure is increased in normotensive and renal hypertensive rats with and without adrenalectomy and under pentobarbital anesthesia.

Intravenous ketamine produces a fall in arterial blood pressure in the Rhesus monkey and a rise in arterial blood pressure in the dog. In this respect the dog mimics the cardiovascular effect observed in man. The pressor response to ketamine injected into intact, unanesthetized dogs is accompanied by a tachycardia, rise in cardiac output and a fall in total peripheral resistance. It causes a fall in perfusion pressure following a large dose injected into an artificially perfused vascular bed (dog hindquarters), and it has little or no potentiating effect upon vasoconstriction responses of epinephrine or norepinephrine. The pressor response to ketamine is reduced or blocked by chlorpromazine (central depressant and peripheral α-adrenergic blockade), by β-adrenergic blockade, and by ganglionic blockade. The tachycardia and increase in myocardial contractile force seen in intact animals does not appear in isolated hearts (Langendorff) at a concentration of 0.1 mg of ketamine nor in Starling dog heart-lung preparations at a ketamine concentration of 50 mg/kg of HLP. These observations support the hypothesis that the hypertension produced by ketamine is due to selective activation of central cardiac stimulating mechanisms leading to an increase in cardiac output. The dog myocardium is not sensitized to epinephrine and ketamine appears to have a weak antiarrhythmic activity.

Metabolic Disposition

Ketamine is rapidly absorbed following parenteral administration. Animal experiments indicated that ketamine was rapidly distributed into body tissues, with relatively high concentrations appearing in body fat, liver, lung, and brain; lower concentrations were found in the heart, skeletal muscle, and blood plasma. Placental transfer of the drug was found to occur in pregnant dogs and monkeys. No significant degree of binding to serum albumin was found with ketamine.

Balance studies in rats, dogs, and monkeys resulted in the recovery of 85% to 95% of the dose in the urine, mainly in the form of degradation products. Small amounts of drug were also excreted in the bile and feces. Balance studies with tritium-labeled ketamine in human subjects (1 mg/lb given intravenously) resulted in the mean recovery of 91% of the dose in the urine and 3% in the feces. Peak plasma levels averaged about 0.75 mcg/mL, and CSF levels were about 0.2 mcg/mL, 1 hour after dosing.

Ketamine undergoes N-demethylation and hydroxylation of the cyclohexanone ring, with the formation of water-soluble conjugates which are excreted in the urine. Further oxidation also occurs with the formation of a cyclohexanone derivative. The unconjugated N-demethylated metabolite was found to be less than one-sixth as potent as ketamine. The unconjugated demethyl cyclohexanone derivative was found to be less than one-tenth as potent as ketamine. Repeated doses of ketamine administered to animals did not produce any detectable increase in microsomal enzyme activity.


Male and female rats, when given five times the average human intravenous dose of ketamine for three consecutive days about one week before mating, had a reproductive performance equivalent to that of saline-injected controls. When given to pregnant rats and rabbits intramuscularly at twice the average human intramuscular dose during the respective periods of organogenesis, the litter characteristics were equivalent to those of saline-injected controls. A small group of rabbits was given a single large dose (six times the average human dose) of ketamine on Day 6 of pregnancy to simulate the effect of an excessive clinical dose around the period of nidation. The outcome of pregnancy was equivalent in control and treated groups.

To determine the effect of ketamine on the perinatal and postnatal period, pregnant rats were given twice the average human intramuscular dose during Days 18 to 21 of pregnancy. Litter characteristics at birth and through the weaning period were equivalent to those of the control animals. There was a slight increase in incidence of delayed parturition by one day in treated dams of this group. Three groups each of mated beagle bitches were given 2.5 times the average human intramuscular dose twice weekly for the three weeks of the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy, respectively, without the development of adverse effects in the pups.

©Hospira 2005


Printed in USA


Additional barcode labeling by:
Physicians Total Care, Inc.
Tulsa, Oklahoma      74146

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