RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
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Preemptive ketamine during general anesthesia for postoperative analgesia in patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

AIM: Preemptive analgesia is currently in use in the management of postoperative pain and no more under search. The administration of ketamine as intraoperative analgesic agent is well-known since a long time; the analgesic properties of this drug are related to its actions as a non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors antagonist; these receptors present an excitatory function on pain transmission and this binding seems to prevent or reverse the central sensitisation of every kind of pain, including postoperative pain. In literature, the use of this anesthetic for the preemptive analgesia in the management of postoperative pain is controversial; for this reason the aim of our study was the clinical evaluation of preemptive perioperative analgesia with low-doses ketamine.

METHODS: This trial involved 40 patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy, with the same surgical operator; postoperative analgesia was performed with the intraoperative administration of ketamine (0.7 mg/kg) or tramadol (15 mg/kg). A randomized, double-blind study was performed; after an inhalatory/analgesic general anesthesia (sevofluorane + remifentanyl) the postoperative-pain control was clinically evaluated through algometric measurements (Visual Analog Scale, Verbal Rating Scale, Pain Intensity Difference); supplemental doses of tramadol were administered if required, also to quantify the adequacy of analgesia, and adverse effects were evaluated.

RESULTS: The results show that preemptive intraoperative analgesia with ketamine produces a good analgesia at the awakening, despite low duration (approximately 1 hour), and upgrades the analgesic effect of tramadol in the postoperative period. Among the adverse effects, some (for example nausea) were related to the administration of both analgesics and to the kind of surgery, others (hallucinosis, nystagmus, photophobia, psychomotor excitation, psychotic symptoms) were due to ketamine, and others (respiratory depression and hypotension) could be related to tramadol. Although the adverse effects due to ketamine are more numerous than those related to tramadol, the second could potentially be more dangerous.

CONCLUSION: Our study suggests that preemptive low-doses ketamine is able to produce an adequate postoperative analgesia and increases the analgesic effect of tramadol; furthermore, ketamine adverse effects could be reduced by intraoperative administration of benzodiazepines and/or antiemetic drugs, or by the association of ketamine and a peripheral analgesic (ketorolac).

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