Intravenous ketamine in a dissociating dose as a temporizing measure to avoid mechanical ventilation in adult patient with severe asthma exacerbation

J Emerg Med. 2011 Nov;41(5):492-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.03.035. Epub 2008 Oct 15.


Background: Patients experiencing severe asthma exacerbations occasionally deteriorate to respiratory failure requiring endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation in this setting exposes the patients to substantial iatrogenic risk and should be avoided if at all possible.

Objectives: To describe the use of intravenous ketamine in acute asthma exacerbation.

Case report: We present a case of severe asthma exacerbation in an adult female patient who failed to improve with standard therapies, but promptly improved with the administration of intravenous ketamine (0.75 mg/kg i.v. bolus followed by continuous drip of 0.15 mg/kg/h).

Summary: This case suggests that intravenous ketamine given in a dissociative dose may be an effective temporizing measure to avoid mechanical ventilation in adult patients with severe asthma exacerbations.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Intravenous
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / administration & dosage*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Ketamine