Adjunct low-dose ketamine infusion vs standard of care in mechanically ventilated critically ill patients at a Tertiary Saudi Hospital (ATTAINMENT Trial): study protocol for a randomized, prospective, pilot, feasibility trial

Trials. 2020 Mar 20;21(1):288. doi: 10.1186/s13063-020-4216-4.


Background: A noticeable interest in ketamine infusion for sedation management has developed among critical care physicians for critically ill patients. The 2018 Pain, Agitation/sedation, Delirium, Immobility, and Sleep disruption guideline suggested low-dose ketamine infusion as an adjunct to opioid therapy to reduce opioid requirements in post-surgical patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). This was, however, rated as conditional due to the very low quality of evidence. Ketamine has favorable characteristics, making it an especially viable alternative for patients with respiratory and hemodynamic instability. The Analgo-sedative adjuncT keTAmine Infusion iN Mechanically vENTilated ICU patients (ATTAINMENT) trial aims to assess the effect and safety of adjunct low-dose continuous infusion of ketamine as an analgo-sedative compared to standard of care in critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation (MV) for ≥ 24 h.

Methods/design: This trial is a prospective, randomized, active controlled, open-label, pilot, feasibility study of adult ICU patients (> 14 years old) on MV. The study will take place in the adult ICUs in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSH&RC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and will enroll 80 patients. Patients will be randomized post-intubation into two groups: the intervention group will receive an adjunct low-dose continuous infusion of ketamine plus standard of care. Ketamine will be administered over a period of 48 h at a fixed infusion rate of 2 μg/kg/min (0.12 mg/kg/h) in the first 24 h followed by 1 μg/kg/min (0.06 mg/kg/h) in the second 24 h. The control group will receive standard of care in the ICU (propofol and/or fentanyl and/or midazolam) according to the KFSH&RC sedation and analgesia protocol as clinically appropriate. The primary outcome is MV duration until ICU discharge, death, extubation, or 28 days post-randomization, whichever comes first.

Discussion: The first patient was enrolled on 1 September 2019. As of 10 October 2019, a total of 16 patients had been enrolled. We expect to complete the recruitment by 31 December 2020. The findings of this pilot trial will likely justify further investigation for the role of adjunct low-dose ketamine infusion as an analgo-sedative agent in a larger, multicenter, randomized controlled trial.

Trial registration: NCT04075006. Registered on 30 August 2019. Current controlled trials: ISRCTN14730035. Registered on 3 February 2020.

Keywords: ATTAINMENT; Critically ill; Delirium; Fentanyl; Ketamine; Mechanical ventilation; Midazolam; Propofol; Sedation; Standard of care; Vasopressors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage*
  • Ketamine / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Standard of Care*
  • Tertiary Care Centers*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Ketamine

Associated data