OPEN Foundation

Close this search box.

The correlation between ketamine and posttraumatic stress disorder in burned service members

Share This Post



Predisposing factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include experiencing a traumatic event, threat of injury or death, and untreated pain. Ketamine, an anesthetic, is used at low doses as part of a multimodal anesthetic regimen. However, since ketamine is associated with psychosomatic effects, there is a concern that ketamine may increase the risk of developing PTSD. This study investigated the prevalence of PTSD in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) service members who were treated for burns in a military treatment center.


The PTSD Checklist-Military (PCL-M) is a 17-question screening tool for PTSD used by the military. A score of 44 or higher is a positive screen for PTSD. The charts of all OIF/OEF soldiers with burns who completed the PCL-M screening tool (2002-2007) were reviewed to determine the number of surgeries received, the anesthetic regime used, including amounts given, the total body surface area burned, and injury severity score. Morphine equivalent units were calculated using standard dosage conversion factors.


The prevalence of PTSD in patients receiving ketamine during their operation(s) was compared with patients not receiving ketamine. Of the 25,000 soldiers injured in OIF/OEF, United States Army Institute of Surgical Research received 603 burned casualties, of which 241 completed the PCL-M. Of those, 147 soldiers underwent at least one operation. Among 119 patients who received ketamine during surgery and 28 who did not; the prevalence of PTSD was 27% (32 of 119) versus 46% (13 of 28), respectively (p = 0.044).


Contrary to expectations, patients receiving perioperative ketamine had a lower prevalence of PTSD than soldiers receiving no ketamine during their surgeries despite having larger burns, higher injury severity score, undergoing more operations, and spending more time in the ICU.

McGhee, L. L., Maani, C. V., Garza, T. H., Gaylord, K. M., & Black, I. H. (2008). The correlation between ketamine and posttraumatic stress disorder in burned service members. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 64(2), S195-S199.
Link to full text

OPEN Foundation

Join ICPR 2022 Online!

ICPR features world-leading experts from many academic disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, ethnobotany, and philosophy who come together to give a scientific conference for academics, therapists, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and members of the public. Get your ICPR 2022 livestream ticket today and use the code OPENLIVE30 at checkout for a €30 discount.

Learn More


Subscribe to our new OPEN-Minded newsletter to stay in the loop, hear about our events, and become a part of a community dedicated to advancing psychedelics.

By clicking subscribe, I confirm to receive emails from the OPEN Foundation and agree with its privacy policy.

16 July - NDE's and Psychedelic Experiences: Commonalities & Insights