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Ketamine as Treatment for Cluster Headache: A Systematic Review of Literature and a Case Series.

INTRODUCTION: Cluster headache is a severe and debilitating neurological condition characterized by intense, excruciating pain with a significant impact on patients' wellbeing. Although different treatment options are available, many patients continue to experience inadequate relief. Therefore, experimental strategies are increasingly studied. One of the more promising approaches is the use of ketamine. We present the currently available evidence and our own data.

METHODS: In this mixed-methods paper, we first summarize the available evidence of ketamine for treatment of cluster headache based on a systematic review of literature in MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane library of systematic reviews. As the level of evidence is quite limited, we report our own cohort study with ten patients treated with ketamine infusions for cluster headache. They were followed up to investigate the patients' experience of treatment success and quality of life.

RESULTS: The search and review of literature identified four reports with a total of 68 patients. All were uncontrolled case series. The current literature suggests that ketamine might decrease cluster headache. However, as the applied regimes and reported outcomes are highly heterogeneous, further analysis was futile. Our own data show high patient satisfaction with ketamine treatment.

CONCLUSION: Despite the limited evidence, ketamine might be considered a potential therapeutic approach for cluster headache. Therefore, further research including randomized controlled trials should be encouraged.

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