Status epilepticus (SE) and cluster seizures (CS) are common occurrences in veterinary neurology and frequent reasons of admission to veterinary hospitals. With prolonged seizure activity, gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) receptors (GABAa receptors) become inactive, leading to a state of pharmacoresistance to benzodiazepines and other GABAergic medications, which is called refractory status epilepticus (RSE). Prolonged seizure activity is also associated with overexpression of -methyl-D-aspartic (NMDA) receptors. Rodent models have shown the efficacy of ketamine (KET) in treating RSE, and its use has been reported in one canine case of RSE. Boluses of KET 5 mg/kg IV have become the preferred treatment for RSE in our hospital. A retrospective study was performed to evaluate and report our experience with KET IV bolus to treat prolonged and/or repeated seizure activity in cases of canine CS, SE, and RSE. A total of 15 dogs were retrieved, for 20 hospitalizations and 28 KET IV injections over 3 years. KET IV boluses were used 12 times for RSE (9 generalized seizures, 3 focal seizures) and KET terminated the episode of RSE 12/12 times (100%); however, seizures recurred 4/12 times (33%) within ≤6 h of KET IV bolus. When used for CS apart from episodes of RSE, KET IV bolus was associated with termination of the CS episode only 4/14 times (29%). Only 4/28 (14%) KET IV boluses were associated with adverse effects imputable only to the use of KET. One dog experienced a short, self-limited seizure activity during administration of KET IV, which was most likely related to a pre-mature use of KET IV (i.e., before GABAergic resistance and NMDA receptor overexpression had taken place). This study indicates that KET 5 mg/kg IV bolus may be successful for the treatment of RSE in dogs.
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