Ketamine sedation for pediatric gastroenterology procedures

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001 Jan;32(1):26-33. doi: 10.1097/00005176-200101000-00010.


Background: Although the dissociative sedative ketamine is used commonly for pediatric procedural sedation in other settings, the safety of this agent in pediatric gastroenterology is not well-studied. A 5-year experience with ketamine sedation for pediatric gastroenterology procedures was reviewed to document the safety profile of this agent and to identify predictors of laryngospasm during esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).

Methods: The study was a retrospective consecutive case series of children receiving ketamine administered by pediatric gastroenterologists skilled in basic airway management to facilitate pediatric gastrointestinal procedures during a 5-year period. Patient's records were reviewed to determine indication, dosage, adverse effects, drugs, inadequate sedation, and recovery time for each sedation. A multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of laryngospasm during EGD. Outcome measures were descriptive features of sedation, including adverse effects and predictors of laryngospasm during EGD.

Results: During the study period pediatric gastroenterologists administered ketamine 636 times, primarily for EGD (86%) and primarily by the intravenous route (98%). The median loading dose and total dose were 1.00 mg/kg and 1.34 mg/kg, respectively. Inadequate sedation was noted in seven (1.1%) procedures. Adverse effects included transient laryngospasm (8.2%), emesis (4.1%), recovery agitation (2.4%), partial airway obstruction (1.3%), apnea and respiratory depression (0.5%), and excessive salivation (0.3%). There were no adverse outcomes attributable to ketamine. Nearly half (46%) the subjects had severe underlying illness (American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA] class > or =3). All instances of laryngospasm occurred during EGD (9.5% incidence), and the only independent predictor of laryngospasm in this sample was decreasing age. The incidence of laryngospasm was 13.9% in preschool-aged (< or =6 years) children and was 3.6% in school-aged (>6 years) children (difference 10.3%, 95% confidence intervals 5.5-14.9%). No dose relationship was noted with laryngospasm, and the risk did not increase with underlying illness.

Conclusion: Pediatric gastroenterologists skilled in ketamine administration and basic airway management can effectively administer this drug to facilitate gastrointestinal procedures. Transient laryngospasm occurred in 9.5% of children receiving ketamine for EGD, and its incidence was greater in preschool than in school-aged children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gastroenterology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage*
  • Ketamine / adverse effects
  • Laryngismus / epidemiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety


  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Ketamine