Fibromyalgia (FM) is a challenging pain syndrome for which no reliable pharmacologic treatment exists. Recent clinical studies suggest that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors might play a role in the pathogenesis of this disorder. To determine whether an intravenous (IV) ketamine test predicts the response to a therapeutic trial with an oral N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, we performed a low-dose (0.1 mg/kg) IV ketamine infusion on 34 consecutive patients with FM, which was subsequently followed by an oral dextromethorphan (DX) treatment regimen. As per previous guidelines, the cutoff value for a positive response to the IV ketamine test was designated to be 67% pain relief, and a positive response to DX treatment was 50% pain reduction at 4- to 6-week follow-up visits. The degree of correlation between pain relief with ketamine and DX was highly significant (Pearson correlation coefficient, 0.66; P < .001). Ten patients responded positively to both ketamine and DX, 19 responded to neither drug, 3 had a positive response to ketamine but not DX, and 2 obtained good pain relief with DX but not ketamine. The sensitivity of the IV ketamine test was 83%, the specificity was 86%, the positive predictive value was 77%, and the negative predictive value was 91%. An association was also found between the development of side effects to the two treatments.
Perspective: The response to an IV ketamine infusion was found to predict the subsequent response to an oral dextromethorphan treatment regimen in fibromyalgia patients, with an observed agreement of 83%. Considering the refractory nature of fibromyalgia to conventional pain treatments, the IV ketamine test might enhance patient care by saving time and reducing unnecessary treatment trials.