A consideration of ketamine dreams

P Hejja, S Galloon
Canadian Anaesthetists' Society Journal 1975, 22 (1): 100-5
This study was designed to see whether covering of the eyes during and after ketamine anaesthesia would reduce the incidence of dreams. One hundred and fifty patients, randomly divided into three groups, underwent therapeutic abortion with ketamine as the sole anaesthesia. One hundred patients had their eyes completely covered, 50 in the operating room only and 50 in the operating room and in the recovery room. The third 50 were controls, with their eyes uncovered. All patients were questioned post-operatively about dreams, nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness and experiences, and also how frequently they dreamed at home. Although covering the eyes in the recovery room only reduced the incidence of dreams marginally, it became obvious that the patients who dreamed after ketamine (in all 3 groups) were those who normally dreamed at home. There were 82 patients who were recorded as not being home-dreamers, and only two of these dreamed after ketamine. In contrast, of the 68 home-dreamers, 50 dreamed after ketamine, and 17 of these had unpleasant dreams. In the home-dreamers, covering the eyes reduced the incidence of dreams from 86 per cent in Group 1 to 72 per cent in Group 2 and 64 per cent in Group 3. It is suggested that goggles may be advantageous when dealing with home-dreamers, and a question about the patient's tendency to dream should be included in the preoperative questioning. Alterations in premedication and the use of a quiet dark room during recovery may even further reduce unpleasant dreams in this group.

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