Precipitated Opioid Withdrawal Treated With Ketamine in a Hospitalized Patient: A Case Report

Link to article at PubMed

J Addict Med. 2023 Jul-Aug 01;17(4):488-490. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001151. Epub 2023 Feb 18.


BACKGROUND: Although initiating buprenorphine in the presence of full opioid agonists has always been a clinical dilemma, the transition to primarily fentanyl in the drug supply has increased the urgency to find appropriate treatments for precipitated opioid withdrawal (POW). Although rare, lack of evidence on how to best treat POW threatens clinician and patient comfort in initiating life-saving medication for opioid use disorder. Ketamine has been used in emergency department settings to treat POW; this is the first case report of ketamine use in a hospitalized patient.

CASE SUMMARY: A 38-year-old male patient with severe opioid use disorder presented to the emergency department with suicidality and opioid withdrawal 24 hours after last fentanyl use. In the first 24 hours of admission, he received sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone (BNX) 16-4 mg, resulting in Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale score increasing from 13 to over 36. The patient was admitted, and addiction medicine was consulted. The patient was diagnosed with POW, started on ketamine infusion, and given additional BNX 8-2 mg. Twelve hours after the ketamine infusion, the patient's Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale score improved to 18 but remained elevated. He received a second ketamine infusion plus additional BNX with complete resolution of symptoms within 8 hours, and he was stabilized and discharged on BNX 24-6 mg daily.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Ketamine is a promising treatment for POW due to its potentiation of μ-opioid receptor-mediated signaling. This is the first case to describe POW in the inpatient hospital setting. More research is needed to establish the effectiveness and feasibility of ketamine as treatment for POW.

PMID:37579118 | DOI:10.1097/ADM.0000000000001151

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