Ketamine for Management of Neonatal and Pediatric Refractory Status Epilepticus

Neurology. 2022 Sep 20;99(12):e1227-e1238. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200889. Epub 2022 Jul 11.


Background and objectives: Few data are available regarding the use of anesthetic infusions for refractory status epilepticus (RSE) in children and neonates, and ketamine use is increasing despite limited data. We aimed to describe the impact of ketamine for RSE in children and neonates.

Methods: Retrospective single-center cohort study of consecutive patients admitted to the intensive care units of a quaternary care children's hospital treated with ketamine infusion for RSE.

Results: Sixty-nine patients were treated with a ketamine infusion for RSE. The median age at onset of RSE was 0.7 years (interquartile range 0.15-7.2), and the cohort included 13 (19%) neonates. Three patients (4%) had adverse events requiring intervention during or within 12 hours of ketamine administration, including hypertension in 2 patients and delirium in 1 patient. Ketamine infusion was followed by seizure termination in 32 patients (46%), seizure reduction in 19 patients (28%), and no change in 18 patients (26%).

Discussion: Ketamine administration was associated with few adverse events, and seizures often terminated or improved after ketamine administration. Further data are needed comparing first-line and subsequent anesthetic medications for treatment of pediatric and neonatal RSE.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class IV evidence on the therapeutic utility of ketamine for treatment of RSE in children and neonates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics* / therapeutic use
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Ketamine* / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Status Epilepticus* / chemically induced
  • Status Epilepticus* / drug therapy


  • Anesthetics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Ketamine