Ketamine Infusion for Chronic Pain Patient Education

Pre-Infusion Patient Information

What is a Ketamine Infusion?

Ketamine is a widely used anesthetic drug.  A continuous intravenous infusion of this medicine may block pain receptors in the brain and spinal cord.  This may help calm or decrease chronic pain.  Learning more about the cause of your pain can help your doctor decide on the best treatment for you.

Who should get a Ketamine Infusion?

Patients with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) who are given limited, low dose infusions may find relief from their debilitating pain. You will meet with a doctor for an evaluation. If a Ketamine infusion is recommended, a doctor will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. The doctor will also answer any other questions you may have.

What conditions should I make sure my doctor is aware of?

Before your infusion, you should notify the doctor or nurse of:

  • Any drug/food allergies
  • Any medications you are taking
  • Any medical conditions you have
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant

What are the risks and side effects of a Ketamine Infusion?

You may experience short term hallucinations, memory loss, disorientation, dizziness and vivid dreams that are dose related.  Adjusting the dose will help with these side effects.  You also may experience fatigue, nausea, rapid heart rate and an elevation in blood pressure.

About the Infusion

Ketamine infusions are a series of four hour infusions scheduled for four to five consecutive days. You will be closely followed and evaluated for potential repeat infusions.

The time given to you for the infusion is an estimate. You will be notified the day before your procedure to confirm or change the time you were given.

 Before the infusion:

  • Do not eat or drink within eight hours of your appointment. Do not eat or drink during the infusion.
  • If you have diabetes and use insulin, you may need to adjust the dosage of insulin the night prior and the day of the infusion. Your primary care doctor can help you with this adjustment.
  • You should be able to take your usual medications with a small sip of water the morning of the infusion. Please check before taking any pain medications.
  • Bring someone with you to drive you home after the infusion. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the infusion.
  • Plan to have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours after you leave the hospital.

 The day of the infusion:

Please arrive and register at admissions in the lobby of the hospital at your scheduled time.

You will be escorted to the prep area, where you will be connected to a blood pressure machine that will take your blood pressure and your heart rate. You will also have electrocardiogram (ECG) leads placed on your chest to allow us to monitor your heart during the infusion.

A nurse will insert an IV into your arm. The nurse will also review your medical history and medications, listen to your heart and lungs and make sure you have followed all your pre-infusion instructions.

Your physician will obtain your consent for the infusion. The physician will explain the procedure including possible complications and side effects. They will also answer any questions you may have.

During the infusion:

You will be started on a low dose of Ketamine the first time and this dose may be increased depending on the doctor’s orders.  This infusion will run for 4 hours.  Your blood pressure and oxygen level will be monitored every 15 minutes.  You will remain in one room with low lighting where you can relax.  You will not have anything to eat or drink during the infusion with the exception of some ice chips after the first day. You will be awake during the treatment in order for the staff to properly assess your progress during the infusion. This process will continue for four to five days and you will be closely followed and evaluated for potential repeat infusions.

After the infusion:

Most likely you will feel fatigue and disoriented but this will go away after a few hours. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after your Ketamine infusion.

Immediately following the injection, you may notice that your pain may be gone or much less. This is due to the effect of the local anesthetic and lasts only for a few hours.

Following the procedure:

  • You will stay in your room for observation, where medical staff may check your blood pressure and pulse.
  • You will be asked about your pain.
  • The medical staff will review your discharge instructions with you.
  • You will then be discharged home. Someone must drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours.

Can I resume normal activities?

  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours after the procedure. You will need an adult to drive you home following your procedure.
  • You may resume your normal diet.
  • Do not engage in any strenuous activity for 24 hours following the infusion.
  • Follow your doctor’s and physical therapist’s recommendations for exercise.

What do I do for follow up visits?

Please make a follow up appointment with the Pain Management Clinic.

Contact Information

Please feel free to contact the Pain Management Clinic with questions or concerns: (307) 638-7757

In case of emergency including:

  • Severe infusion site redness, swelling
  • Increasing leg weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Report to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911.  Be sure to tell them you had a Ketamine infusion.