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Is ketamine a lifesaving agent in childhood acute severe asthma?

Authors Hendaus M, Jomha F, Alhammadi A

Received 12 November 2015

Accepted for publication 14 December 2015

Published 22 February 2016 Volume 2016:12 Pages 273—279

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S100389

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh

Mohamed A Hendaus,1,2 Fatima A Jomha,3 Ahmed H Alhammadi1,2

1Department of Pediatrics, Section of Academic General Pediatrics, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, 2Department of Clinical Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Doha, Qatar; 3School of Pharmacy, Lebanese International University, Khiara, Lebanon

Abstract: Children with acute severe asthma exacerbation are at risk of developing respiratory failure. Moreover, conventional aggressive management might be futile in acute severe asthma requiring intubation and invasive ventilation. The aim of this review is to detail evidence on the use of ketamine in childhood asthma exacerbations. A search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases was performed, using different combinations of the following terms: ketamine, asthma, use, exacerbation, and childhood. In addition, we searched the references of the identified articles for additional articles. We then reviewed titles and included studies that were relevant to the topic of interest. Finally, the search was limited to studies published in English and Spanish from 1918 to June 2015. Due to the scarcity in the literature, we included all published articles. The literature reports conflicting results of ketamine use for acute severe asthma in children. Taking into consideration the relatively good safety profile of the drug, ketamine might be a reasonable option in the management of acute severe asthma in children who fail to respond to standard therapy. Furthermore, pediatricians and pediatric emergency clinicians administering ketamine should be knowledgeable about the unique actions of this drug and its potential side effects.

Keywords: asthma, ketamine, children

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