Effects of low-dose ketamine on neuropathic pain: An electroencephalogram–electrooculogram/behavioral study

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The aim of the present study was to clarify the neurophysiological changes associated with analgesic and behavioral effects of low-dose ketamine HCl in patients suffering from chronic neuropathic pain. Ten in-patients with neuropathic pain participated in this single-blind, placebo-controlled study after giving written informed consent. Following intravenous injections of a saline solution (placebo), three bolus injections of 5 mg ketamine HCl were administered at 5 min intervals. Changes in pain perception were assessed using a numerical rating scale for pain. Behavioral changes, including psychotomimetic effects, were assessed using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Electroencephalograms (EEG) and electrooculograms (EOG) were recorded continuously throughout the testing period. One minute EEG and closed-eye eye movements were quantified. The effects of ketamine were evaluated by comparing the neurophysiological and behavioral parameters obtained from the placebo and ketamine trials. Pain reduction was significantly correlated with ketamine-induced changes in hallucinatory behavior and excitement as measured by the BPRS. Ketamine injections caused a significant decrease in the EEGα amplitude without an accompanying reduction in EEG frequency. The EEGα amplitude reduction at the right central electrode was significantly related to subjective pain relief. Subanesthetic doses of ketamine significantly decreased rapid eye movements, but did not initiate slow eye movements. In conclusion, the present EEG-EOG/behavioral results indicate that ketamine-induced failure of neural integration between cortical–subcortical regions induces psychotic symptoms and alters pain perception on neuropathic pain.

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