Topical ketamine in the treatment of mucositis pain

Pain Med. 2003 Sep;4(3):298-303. doi: 10.1046/j.1526-4637.2003.03032.x.


Ketamine oral rinse provided effective palliation of intractable mucositis pain in a 32-year-old woman with squamous carcinoma of the tongue undergoing radiation therapy. Pain at rest and with eating decreased with ketamine, allowing for a tapering of her opiate dose. No side effects of ketamine were reported. Treatment benefits most likely arose from the inhibition by ketamine of peripheral N-methyl D-aspartate receptors, though other mechanisms of action may have been contributory. Further evaluation of topical ketamine in the treatment of mucositis-related pain, and, potentially, other causes of inflammatory oral pain, are warranted.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / complications
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / physiopathology*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / therapeutic use*
  • Mucous Membrane / radiation effects
  • Pain, Intractable / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Intractable / etiology
  • Pain, Intractable / physiopathology
  • Palliative Care
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tongue Neoplasms / complications
  • Tongue Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • Analgesics
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Ketamine