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Emerg Med J. 2004 May; 21(3): 290–295.
PMCID: PMC1726347

The Lancaster experience of 2.0 to 2.5 mg/kg intramuscular ketamine for paediatric sedation: 501 cases and analysis


Objectives: To report the experience of using intramuscular ketamine 2.0 or 2.5 mg/kg for minor painful procedures in children in a medium sized district general hospital accident and emergency department. To demonstrate the safety and acceptability of ketamine and determine if the incidence of adverse effects is related to dose or other variables.

Methods: Prospective data collection and analysis using Statsdirect and SPSS software.

Results: 501 consecutive cases were collected from August 1996 to April 2002. A total of 310 children received 2.0 mg/kg and 191 received 2.5 mg/kg. Twenty six received a second dose. In seven cases oxygen saturation fell below 93%, three of these fell below 90%. There was one case of laryngospasm. Eight cases received airway suctioning, five of these were mouth or lip wounds. Seventeen per cent vomited in recovery or at home for which one child required admission. Muscle hypertonicity was observed in 6.8%, disturbed sleep or nightmares in 2%. The median time to discharge was 85 minutes. Ninety seven per cent of parents' experiences were "the same as" or "better than" expected. No children suffered any lasting or troublesome complications.

Conclusions: 2.0 – 2.5 mg/kg intramuscular ketamine sedation is a safe and acceptable technique when used within a defined protocol. Lower dose ketamine (2 mg/kg) warrants further study in view of potentially less airway complications and quicker discharge times than previously reported.

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