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Ketamine is an anesthetic used for certain medical procedures. It can be used as a general anesthetic or to help induce anesthesia, and may also be used in combination with other anesthetics. The medication is injected into a vein or muscle. While most people are able to receive it without any problems, side effects are possible and can include mood changes and rapid heartbeat.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine hydrochloride (Ketalar®) is a prescription medication approved for use as a general anesthetic during certain medical procedures. It is also approved to induce anesthesia (to "put you under") before other anesthetics are administered, or to be used in combination with other anesthetics. It is given as an injection into a vein or muscle.
Ketamine is considered a Schedule III controlled substance, because it has the potential for abuse. This means there are strict laws and regulations controlling its use.
The active ingredient in this anesthetic is ketamine hydrochloride (sometimes abbreviated ketamine HCl, or simply called ketamine). Ketamine is sometimes used illicitly, as a drug of abuse, because of some of its effects. This ingredient is also commonly used in veterinary medicine.
(Click What Is Ketamine Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Are There Side Effects?

Just like any medicine, ketamine can cause side effects. However, not everyone who receives the drug will experience problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well.
If reactions do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common.
Common ketamine side effects include but are not limited to:
(Click Ketamine Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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