Ketamine, an N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor antagonist, may be useful for treating neuropathic pain, which is often difficult to control. We report a prospective study of 13 patients with acute neuropathic pain due to spinal cord injury (SCI) treated with ketamine. All underwent a test challenge with 5mg ketamine. Patients with satisfactory responses were then treated intravenously and subsequently perorally with ketamine. Pre- and post-treatment pain was recorded on a visual analogue scale. All 13 patients responded positively to the ketamine test challenge and underwent continued ketamine administration. At the cessation of treatment and alter at final follow up, pain was decreased by 74.7% and 96.8%, respectively. The average administration period was 17.2 days; it was longer (59 days) in one patient treated in the subacute phase. All patients suffered allodynia-type pain and experienced 30% or less of their original pain intensity upon test challenge. Side effects were noted in five patients, although their severity did not require treatment cessation. In patients with SCI, ketamine reduced allodynia. Particularly good results were obtained in patients treated in the acute phase and these patients did not experience post-treatment symptom recurrence. Our results suggest that in patients with SCI, ketamine is useful for treating neuropathic pain in the acute phase.
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