Ketamine Hydrochloride belongs to a class of drugs known as dissociative anesthetics. Also known as Ketalar, Ketanest, and Ketaset.
Other drugs in this category include the hallucinogen, phencyclidine (PCP), dextromethorphan (DXM), and nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.
These types of drugs can make a person feel detached from sensations and surroundings, as if they are floating outside their body.
Most often used in veterinary medicine. In humans, it can induce and maintain general anesthesia before, during, and after surgery.
For medical purposes, ketamine is either injected into a muscle or given through an intravenous (IV) line.
Thus considered safe as an anesthetic, because it does not reduce blood pressure or lower the breathing rate.
The fact that it does not need an electricity supply, oxygen, or highly trained staff makes it a suitable option in less wealthy countries and in disaster zones.
Used in human medical practice for procedures such as:
- cardiac catheterization
- skin grafts
- orthopedic procedures
- diagnostic procedures on the eye, ear, nose, and throat
- minor surgical interventions, such as dental extractions
Also used in a hospital setting to control seizures in patients with status epilepticus (SE), a type of epilepsy that can lead to brain damage and death. However, researchers point out that ketamine is normally used for this purpose after 5 to 6 other options have proven ineffective.
Researchers are looking into other possible medical uses of ketamine, particularly in the areas of treatment-resistant depression, suicide prevention, and substance use disorders. However, this use is controversial.