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Efficacy of ketamine in the treatment of migraines and other unspecified primary headache disorders compared to placebo and other interventions: a systematic review  

Chah, Neysan (Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC)
Jones, Mike (Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC)
Milord, Steve (Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC)
Al-Eryani, Kamal (Division of Diagnostic Sciences, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC)
Enciso, Reyes (Division of Dental Public Health and Pediatric Dentistry, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of University of Southern California)
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Journal of Dental Anesthesia and Pain Medicine / v.21, no.5, 2021 , pp. 413-429 More about this Journal
Background: Migraine headaches are the second leading cause of disability worldwide and are responsible for significant morbidity, reduction in the quality of life, and loss of productivity on a global scale. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the efficacy of ketamine on migraines and other primary headache disorders compared to placebo and other active interventions, such as midazolam, metoclopramide/diphenhydramine, and prochlorperazine/diphenhydramine. Methods: An electronic search of databases published up to February 2021, including Medline via PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library, a hand search of the bibliographies of the included studies, as well as literature and systematic reviews found through the search was conducted to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating ketamine in the treatment of migraine/headache disorders compared to the placebo. The authors assessed the risk of bias according to the Cochrane Handbook guidelines. Results: The initial search strategy yielded 398 unduplicated references, which were independently assessed by three review authors. After evaluation, this number was reduced to five RCTs (two unclear risk of bias and three high risk of bias). The total number of patients in all the studies was 193. Due to the high risk of bias, small sample size, heterogeneity of the outcomes reported, and heterogeneity of the comparison groups, the quality of the evidence was very low. One RCT reported that intranasal ketamine was superior to intranasal midazolam in improving the aura attack severity, but not duration, while another reported that intranasal ketamine was not superior to metoclopramide and diphenhydramine in reducing the headache severity. In one trial, subcutaneous ketamine was superior to saline in migraine severity reduction; however, intravenous (I.V.) ketamine was inferior to I.V. prochlorperazine and diphenhydramine in another study. Conclusion: Further double-blind controlled studies are needed to assess the efficacy of ketamine in treating acute and chronic refractory migraines and other primary headaches using intranasal and subcutaneous routes. These studies should include a long-term follow-up and different ketamine dosages in diagnosed patients following international standards for diagnosing headache/migraine.
Ketamine; Meta-Analysis; Migraine; Primary Headache Disorder; Systematic Review;
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