Ketamine as an Anesthetic for Patients with Acute Brain Injury: A Systematic Review

Mads Christian Tofte Gregers*, Søren Mikkelsen, Katrine Prier Lindvig, Anne Craveiro Brøchner

*Corresponding author for this work

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For years, the use of ketamine as an anesthetic to patients suffering from acute brain injury has been debated because of its possible deleterious effects on the cerebral circulation and thus on the cerebral perfusion. Early studies suggested that ketamine could increase the intracranial pressure thus lowering the cerebral perfusion and hence reduce the oxygen supply to the injured brain. However, more recent studies are less conclusive and might even indicate that patients with acute brain injury could benefit from ketamine sedation. This systematic review summarizes the evidence regarding the use of ketamine in patients suffering from traumatic brain injury. Databases were searched for studies using ketamine in acute brain injury. Outcomes of interest were mortality, intracranial pressure, cerebral perfusion pressure, blood pressure, heart rate, spreading depolarizations, and neurological function. In total 11 studies were included. The overall level of evidence concerning the use of ketamine in brain injury is low. Only two studies found a small increase in intracranial pressure, while two small studies found decreased levels of intracranial pressure following ketamine administration. We found no evidence of harm during ketamine use in patients suffering from acute brain injury.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurocritical Care
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)273-282
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Anesthetics i.v
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Ketamine
  • Systematic review
  • Traumatic brain injury


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