February 17, 2023

Ketamine as Advanced Second Line Treatment in Benzodiazepine-Refractory Convulsive Status Epilepticus in Children

Abstract found on PubMed

Status epilepticus (SE) is one of the most common neurological emergencies in children. To date, there is no definitive evidence to guide treatment of SE refractory to benzodiazepines. The main objectives of treatment protocols are to expedite therapeutic decisions and to use fast and short-acting medications without significant adverse effects. Protocols differ among institutions and most frequently valproate, phenytoin, and levetiracetam are used as second line treatment. After failure of first- and second-line medications, admission to the intensive care unit and continuous infusion of anesthetics are usually indicated. Ketamine is a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist that has been safely used for the treatment of refractory SE in adults and children. In animal models of SE ketamine demonstrated antiepileptic and neuroprotective properties and synergistic effects with other antiseizure medications. We reviewed the literature to demonstrate the potential role of ketamine as advanced second line agent in the treatment of SE. Pharmacological targets, pathophysiology of SE and the receptor trafficking hypothesis are reviewed and presented. The pharmacology of ketamine is outlined with related properties, advantages and side effects. We summarized the most recent and relevant publications on experimental and clinical studies on ketamine in SE. Key-experts’ opinion is also reported. Considering the current knowledge on SE pathophysiology, early sequential polytherapy should include ketamine for its wide range of positive assets. Future research and clinical trials on SE pharmacotherapy should focus on the role of ketamine as second line medication.