Since I work in the emergency room, one of my favorite organic molecules happens to be the widely known drug Ketamine. When the name Ketamine is mentioned, most think of the highly abused street drug, also known as “Special K”. While the drug has a high potential for street abuse, it is one of the most unique and powerful anesthetic drugs used in hospitals and veterinary clinics across the world. Ketamine hydrochloride is a slightly acidic, non- barbiturate solution used intravenously or intramuscularly for the rapid induction of anesthesia. Ketamine is one of the few anesthetics that do not suppress breathing or require skeletal muscle relaxation when used during short surgical and diagnostic procedures, and is often referred to as a “conscious sedative”. Patients who are anesthetized with Ketamine encounter a separation of their body as they do not experience sensation or pain while the procedure is being performed, but often experience a feeling of twilight and have hallucinations. Ketamine is also the anesthetic of choice in veterinary clinics for a host of different animals, and is used as pain management therapy for animals after surgical procedures. Besides use for its anesthetic properties, Ketamine has also shown effectiveness for the treatment of depression for patients who have not responded well to other anti-depressant therapy.
Ketamine was originally developed as a less neurotoxic derivative of PCP which has a lower likelihood of producing psychotic effects. Ketamine is classified as NMDAR (n-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor) antagonist which is a group of receptors that allow neurons to communicate through the transfer of electrical signals across the neurotransmitter. Ketamine interferes with the transmission of pain across these neurotransmitters.
IUPAC Name: 2-(o-chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino) cyclohexanone (hydrochloride)