UMEM Educational Pearls

In this review of 4 RCTs, when compared with intranasal fentanyl, intranasal ketamine was non-inferior in its efficacy at providing analgesia for acute pain. In total, the studies included 276 participants, aged 3-17, who rated their pain moderate to severe. The patients were randomized to receive either IN ketamine (1-1.5 mg/kg) or IN fentanyl (1.5-2 ug/kg). Most patients had extremity injuries although some also had acute abdominal pain. All studies included patients who had received acetaminophen or ibuprofen prior to the interventions.
The reduction in pain at different time points, duration of pain control, and rates of requiring rescue analgesia were similar between the two groups. The risk of adverse events was higher in the ketamine group, however most adverse effects were very minor (nausea/vomiting, dizziness, unpleasant taste, and drowsiness were most frequent). The only serious adverse event (hypotension) was seen in the fentanyl group. Ketamine did have a slightly higher rate of associated sedation, although no patients became deeply sedated after receiving the ketamine and none required any intervention for sedation.
Take Home: Intranasal ketamine may be a good non-opioid pain medication to add to your toolkit. Dosing is 1-1.5 mg/kg intranasally. Although there may be an increased risk of adverse events, there are predominantly very minor.



Silva LOJ, Lee JY, Bellolio F, Homme JL, Anderson JL. Intranasal ketamine for acute pain management in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2020 (38)1860-1866. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.05.094