Ketamine for Migraine--Reduces Pain, Symptoms

Study Finds Three Quarters of Patients With Intractable Migraine Respond Positively

Findings from a retrospective study of patients with intractable migraine headache suggest that ketamine may be an effective treatment option. The review of data for 61 patients whose migraine had failed other treatments found that almost 75% reported reduced headache intensity following a 3- to 7-day course of inpatient ketamine therapy. Ketamine is commonly used as a general anesthetic, but also can effectively manage pain from a variety of conditions, and is increasingly used to treat depression. Co-author Eric Schwenk, MD, director of orthopedic anesthesia at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, commented, “Our study focused only on short-term relief, but it is encouraging that this treatment might have the potential to help patients long-term. Our work provides the basis for future, prospective studies that involve larger numbers of patients.” The findings were reported at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2017 annual meeting.

It is estimated that 12% of Americans experience migraine attacks and a subset of these are unresponsive to commonly used therapeutic options. In the current study, patients who received ketamine infusions for their migraine reported an average decrease in pain from 7.5 out of 10 at admission to 3.4 upon discharge. The average duration of ketamine treatment was 5.1 days. Only mild adverse effects were noted from the treatment. Dr. Schwenk noted that the retrospective nature of the study precluded the conclusion that ketamine alone was responsible for the improvement, but contended that the promising results warranted additional study.

Read a news story about the study findings.

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