Editorial  |   July 2020
Ketamine for Chronic Pain: Old Drug New Trick?
Author Notes
  • From the Anesthesiology Service, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California, and Department of Anesthesiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
  • This editorial accompanies the article on p. 154.
    This editorial accompanies the article on p. 154.×
  • Accepted for publication April 7, 2020. Published online first on May 19, 2020.
    Accepted for publication April 7, 2020. Published online first on May 19, 2020.×
  • Address correspondence to Dr. Clark: djclark@stanford.edu
Article Information
Editorial / Pain Medicine / Pharmacology
Editorial   |   July 2020
Ketamine for Chronic Pain: Old Drug New Trick?
Anesthesiology 7 2020, Vol.133, 13-15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000003342
Anesthesiology 7 2020, Vol.133, 13-15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000003342
Ketamine ranks among the most basic pharmacologic tools of the anesthesiologist. Approved in 1970 as an anesthetic agent derived from phencyclidine, the drug quickly proved its worth in battlefield settings where maintenance of hemodynamic stability was a prime requirement.1  To this day the drug is valued for use in unstable patients, in those with reactive airway disease, and in situations where sedation, analgesia, or induction is required without having intravenous access. Those indications alone provide ketamine a prominent and durable position in our pharmacologic armamentarium. However, after decades of use, and illicit abuse for its ability to provide a dissociative high, the drug may still have a few tricks to reveal, including the treatment of psychologic disorders, the prevention of chronic postoperative pain, and, as addressed by Pickering et al.2  in this issue of Anesthesiology, the treatment of chronic pain when infused at low doses.