Optimal dosing of intravenous ketamine for procedural sedation in children in the ED-a randomized controlled trial

Am J Emerg Med. 2016 Aug;34(8):1347-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2016.03.064. Epub 2016 Apr 2.


Objective: The objective of the study is to compare need for redosing, sedation efficacy, duration, and adverse events between 3 commonly administered doses of parenteral ketamine in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: We conducted a prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled trial on a convenience sample of children 3 to 18years who received intravenous ketamine for procedural sedation. Children from each age group (3-6, 7-12, and 13-18years) were assigned in equal numbers to 3 dosing groups (1, 1.5, and 2mg/kg) using random permuted blocks. The primary outcome measure was need for ketamine redosing to ensure adequate sedation. Secondary outcome measures were sedation efficacy, sedation duration, and sedation-related adverse events.

Results: A total of 171 children were enrolled of whom 125 (1mg/kg, 50; 1.5mg/kg, 35; 2mg/kg, 40) received the randomized dose and were analyzed. The need for ketamine redosing was higher in the 1mg/kg group (8/50; 16.0% vs 1/35; 2.9% vs 2/40; 5.0%). There was no significant difference in the median Ramsay sedation scores (5.5 [interquartile range {IQR}, 4-6] vs 6 [IQR, 4-6] vs 6 [IQR, 5-6]), FACES-R score (0 [IQR, 0-4] vs 0 [IQR, 0-0] vs 0 [IQR, 0-0]), sedation duration in minutes (23 [IQR, 19-38] vs 24.5 [IQR, 17.5-34.5] vs 23 [IQR, 19-29]), and adverse events (10.0% vs 14.3% vs 10.0%) between the 3 dosing groups. Physician satisfaction was lower in the 1mg/kg group (79.6% vs 94.1% vs 97.3%).

Conclusions: Adequate sedation was achieved with all 3 doses of ketamine. Higher doses did not increase the risk of adverse events or prolong sedation. Ketamine administered at 1.5 or 2.0mg/kg intravenous required less redosing and resulted in greater physician satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Adolescent
  • Anesthetics, Dissociative / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies


  • Anesthetics, Dissociative
  • Ketamine