Ketamine infusion for refractory status epilepticus: A case report of cardiac arrest

Lauren Koffman, Ho Yan Yiu, Salia Farrokh, John Lewin, Romergryko Geocadin, Wendy Ziai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Refractory status epilepticus (RSE) has a high mortality rate and is often difficult to treat. When traditional therapies fail ketamine may be considered. There are limited reports of adverse cardiac events with the use of ketamine for RSE and no reports of cardiac arrest in this context. Objective: Evaluate the occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias associated with the use of ketamine for RSE. Methods: Retrospective chart review of nine patients who underwent ketamine infusion for RSE. Results: Etiology of refractory status epilepticus included autoimmune/infectious process (Zeiler et al., 2014), ischemic stroke (Bleck, 2005) and subarachnoid hemorrhage (Bleck, 2005). Of the nine patients who received ketamine, two had documented cardiac events; one remained clinically stable and the other developed multiple arrhythmias, including recurrent episodes of asystole. Once ketamine was discontinued the latter patient stabilized with the addition of anti arrhythmic therapy. Conclusion: Ketamine is utilized to treat refractory status epilepticus, but should be used with caution in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, as there may be an increased risk of life threatening arrhythmias and cardiac arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Ketamine
  • Refractory status epilepticus
  • Status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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