Reevaluation of rectal ketamine premedication in children: comparison with rectal midazolam

Anesthesiology. 2000 Nov;93(5):1217-24. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200011000-00014.


Background: Results of previous studies of rectal ketamine as a pediatric premedication are clouded because of lack of dose-response relation, inappropriate time of assessing sedative effects, and previous administration or coadministration of benzodiazepines. Therefore, the authors reevaluated the efficacy of rectally administered ketamine in comparison with 1 mg/kg rectal midazolam.

Methods: Sixty-six infants and children (age, 7-61 months) who were American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status I and who were undergoing minor surgeries as in-patients were randomized to receive 5 mg/kg ketamine (n = 16), 7 mg/kg ketamine (n = 16), 10 mg/kg ketamine (n = 17), or 1 mg/kg midazolam (n = 17) via rectum. A blinded observer scored sedation 45 min and 15 min after administration of ketamine and midazolam, respectively, when children were separated from parent(s) for inhalational induction. All children underwent standardized general anesthesia with sevoflurane, nitrous oxide, and oxygen with endotracheal intubation. Blood pressure, heart rate, and oxyhemoglobin saturation were determined before, during, and after anesthesia. Postoperative recovery characteristics and incidence of adverse reactions were also assessed.

Results: Most children (88%) who received rectally 10 mg/kg ketamine or 1 mg/kg midazolam separated easily from their parents compared with those (31%) who received 7 or 5 mg/kg rectal ketamine (P < 0.05). Similarly, more children who received 10 mg/kg ketamine or 1 mg/kg midazolam underwent mask induction without struggling or crying compared with those who received 7 or 5 mg/kg ketamine (P < 0.05). There were no clinically significant changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and oxyhemoglobin saturation after administration of either drug. Immediately after surgery, more children receiving midazolam or 5 mg/kg ketamine were agitated compared with 7 or 10 mg/kg ketamine. Ketamine, 7 and 10 mg/kg, provided postoperative analgesia, but the largest dose of ketamine was associated with delayed emergence from general anesthesia.

Conclusions: The results indicate that rectally administered ketamine alone produces dose-dependent sedative effects in children, when evaluated at its predicted peak plasma concentration. Ketamine, 10 mg/kg, has a delayed onset but is as effective as 1 mg/kg midazolam for sedating healthy children before general anesthesia. However, 10 mg/kg rectal ketamine is not recommended for brief surgeries because of prolonged postoperative sedation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Anesthesia / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Rectal
  • Anesthesia, Inhalation
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / administration & dosage*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conscious Sedation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage*
  • Oxyhemoglobins / metabolism
  • Preanesthetic Medication / methods*


  • Adjuvants, Anesthesia
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Oxyhemoglobins
  • Ketamine
  • Midazolam