Medical Information
United States

In order to provide you with relevant and meaningful content we need to know more about you.

Please choose the category that best describes you.

This content is intended for U.S. Healthcare Professionals. Would you like to proceed?

If you provide additional keywords, you may be able to browse through our database of Scientific Response Documents.

Our scientific content is evidence-based, scientifically balanced and non-promotional. It undergoes rigorous internal medical review and is updated regularly to reflect new information.

ketamine hydrochloride injection, USP Clinical Pharmacology


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Ketamine Hydrochloride Injection, a racemic mixture of ketamine, is a non-selective, non-competitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, an ionotropic glutamate receptor. The major circulating metabolite of ketamine (norketamine) demonstrated activity at the same receptor with less affinity. Norketamine is about 1/3 as active as ketamine in reducing halothane requirements (MAC) of the rat.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Nervous System

Ketamine is a rapidly-acting general anesthetic producing a dissociative anesthetic state characterized by profound analgesia, normal pharyngeal-laryngeal reflexes, normal or slightly enhanced skeletal muscle tone, cardiovascular and respiratory stimulation, and occasionally a transient and minimal respiratory depression. The mechanism of action is primarily due to antagonism of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA receptors) in the central nervous system.

Ketamine can produce nystagmus with pupillary dilation, salivation, lacrimation, and spontaneous limb movements with increased muscle tone through indirect sympathomimetic activity. Ketamine produces analgesia. Ketamine-induced emergence delirium can be reduced with benzodiazepines.

Cardiovascular System

Ketamine increases blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output. Cardiovascular effects of ketamine are indirect and believed to be mediated by inhibition of both central and peripheral catecholamine reuptake. Elevation of blood pressure reaches a maximum within a few minutes of injection and usually returns to preanesthetic values within 15 minutes. In the majority of cases, the systolic and diastolic blood pressure peaks from 10% to 50% above preanesthetic levels shortly after induction of anesthesia, but the elevation can be higher or longer in individual cases.

Respiratory System

Ketamine is a potent bronchodilator suitable for anesthetizing patients at high risk for bronchospasm.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Following intravenous administration, the ketamine concentration has an initial slope (alpha phase) lasting about 45 minutes with a half-life of 10 to 15 minutes. This first phase corresponds clinically to the anesthetic effect of the drug.



Ketamine is metabolized via N-dealkylation to the active metabolite norketamine primarily by CYP2B6 and CYP3A4 and to a lesser extent by other CYP enzymes. Norketamine undergoes hydroxylation of the cyclohexone ring to form hydroxynorketamine compounds via CYP-dependent pathways, which are conjugated with glucuronic acid and subsequently undergo dehydration of the hydroxylated metabolites to form the cyclohexene derivative dehydroxynorketamine.


Following intravenous administration, the ketamine concentration decreases due to a combination of redistribution from the CNS to slower equilibrating peripheral tissues and hepatic biotransformation to norketamine. The redistribution half-life of ketamine from the CNS to slower equilibrating peripheral tissues (beta phase) is 2.5 hours.

Did you find an answer to your question? Yes No
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Contact us.
Report Adverse Event