Ketamine controls prolonged status epilepticus

Epilepsy Res. 2000 Dec;42(2-3):117-22. doi: 10.1016/s0920-1211(00)00175-3.


New treatments are needed to control prolonged status epilepticus given the high failure rate of current therapies. In an animal model of status epilepticus based on electrical stimulation of the hippocampus, rats demonstrate at least 5 five-hours of seizure activity following stimulation. Phenobarbital (70 mg/kg) administered 15 min after stimulation effectively controlled seizures in 66% of animals (n=6). When phenobarbital (70 mg/kg) was administered 60 min after stimulation, seizures were controlled in 25% of animals (n=4). Ketamine (100 mg/kg) administered 15 min after stimulation did not control seizures in any animal (n=4). But when ketamine was administered one hour after stimulation it effectively controlled seizures in all animals (n=4). Increasing doses of ketamine were administered 60 min after stimulation to generate a dose-response curve. The ketamine dose response (fraction of seizure free rats) data were fit to a sigmoid curve to derive an ED(50) of 58 mg/kg. These findings suggest that prolonged status epilepticus becomes refractory to phenobarbital but can be effectively controlled by ketamine. For patients experiencing prolonged status epilepticus that is refractory to phenobarbital, ketamine may be an alternative to general anesthesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Ketamine / pharmacology
  • Ketamine / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Phenobarbital / pharmacology
  • Phenobarbital / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / physiopathology


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Ketamine
  • Phenobarbital