A randomized controlled trial of ketamine/propofol versus propofol alone for emergency department procedural sedation

Ann Emerg Med. 2011 May;57(5):435-41. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2010.11.025. Epub 2011 Jan 21.


Study objective: We compare the frequency of respiratory depression during emergency department procedural sedation with ketamine plus propofol versus propofol alone. Secondary outcomes are provider satisfaction, sedation quality, and total propofol dose.

Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, healthy children and adults undergoing procedural sedation were pretreated with intravenous fentanyl and then randomized to receive either intravenous ketamine 0.5 mg/kg or placebo. In both groups, this procedure was immediately followed by intravenous propofol 1 mg/kg, with repeated doses of 0.5 mg/kg as needed to achieve and maintain sedation. Respiratory depression was defined according to any of 5 predefined markers. Provider satisfaction was scored on a 5-point scale, sedation quality with the Colorado Behavioral Numerical Pain Scale, and propofol dose according to the total number of milligrams of propofol administered.

Results: The incidence of respiratory depression was similar between the ketamine/propofol (21/97; 22%) and propofol-alone (27/96; 28%) groups, difference 6% (95% confidence interval -6% to 18%). With ketamine/propofol compared with propofol alone, treating physicians and nurses were more satisfied, less propofol was administered, and there was a trend toward better sedation quality.

Conclusion: Compared with procedural sedation with propofol alone, the combination of ketamine and propofol did not reduce the incidence of respiratory depression but resulted in greater provider satisfaction, less propofol administration, and perhaps better sedation quality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conscious Sedation / adverse effects
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives* / administration & dosage
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives* / adverse effects
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Ketamine* / administration & dosage
  • Ketamine* / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Propofol* / administration & dosage
  • Propofol* / adverse effects
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / chemically induced
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Ketamine
  • Propofol