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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Clinical Therapeutics, March 2019.

The published version is available at Copyright © Lam et al.


PURPOSE: First-line management of severe asthma exacerbations include the use of inhaled short-acting β-agonists, anticholinergics, and systemic corticosteroids. Continuous intravenous ketamine given at dissociative doses may be a pharmacologic option in patients who are intubated with life-threatening severe bronchospasm unresponsive to standard therapy. We describe the case of a 44-year-old man admitted to the intensive care unit for status asthmaticus requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation.

METHODS: The patient developed severe refractory hypercapnic respiratory failure necessitating additional respiratory support with veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy. Ketamine treatment was initiated at 0.5 mg/kg/h continuous infusion on the day of admission for pain control and required up-titration to 2 mg/kg/h by intensive care unit day 4 for bronchodilation. Whole blood samples were obtained for pharmacokinetic analysis of ketamine during ECMO.

FINDINGS: The plasma concentration at steady state was 1018.7 ng/mL, with an estimated clearance of 1.96 L/kg/h after up-titration. The Vd was 14.18 L/kg, the ke was 0.14 hr-1, and the t½ was 5 hours.

IMPLICATIONS: Compared with healthy adults, there was a 6.5-fold increase in the Vd. However, the Vd was similar compared with critically ill patients not receiving ECMO. Further studies should focus on the effect of ECMO on ketamine pharmacokinetic properties.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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