Ketamine is increasingly being used as an adjuvant to opioids in the treatment of refractory cancer pain. This systematic review examines the available evidence. Randomized, controlled trials, with or without crossover, were included. Studies were identified from MEDLINE, EMBASE, CANCERLIT, the Cochrane Library, handsearched reference lists from review articles and chapters from standard textbooks on pain and palliative care and reference lists from papers retrieved. Four randomized, controlled studies were identified. Two were excluded due to poor quality. Both included studies concluded that ketamine improves morphine treatment in cancer pain. Quantitative meta-analysis was not possible. The available evidence is not sufficient to conclude that ketamine improves the effectiveness of opioid treatment in cancer pain. High quality, randomized, controlled trials with larger numbers of patients and standardized, clinically relevant routes of administration of ketamine are needed.
Bell, R., Eccleston, C., & Kalso, E. (2003). Ketamine as adjuvant to opioids for cancer pain. a qualitative systematic review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 26(3), 867-875. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0885-3924(03)00311-7