1 Scopus citations


Background: Surgical patients with previous depression frequently experience postoperative depressive symptoms. This study's objective was to determine the feasibility of a placebo-controlled trial testing the impact of a sustained ketamine infusion on postoperative depressive symptoms. Methods: This single-centre, triple-blind, placebo-controlled randomised clinical trial included adult patients with depression scheduled for inpatient surgery. After surgery, patients were randomly allocated to receive ketamine (0.5 mg kg−1 over 10 min followed by 0.3 mg kg−1 h−1 for 3 h) or an equal volume of normal saline. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale. On post-infusion day 1, participants guessed which intervention they received. Feasibility endpoints included the fraction of patients approached who were randomised, the fraction of randomised patients who completed the study infusion, and the fraction of scheduled depression assessments that were completed. Results: In total, 32 patients were allocated a treatment, including 31/101 patients approached after a protocol change (31%, 1.5 patients per week). The study infusion was completed without interruption in 30/32 patients (94%). In each group, 7/16 participants correctly guessed which intervention they received. Depression assessments were completed at 170/192 scheduled time points (89%). Between baseline and post-infusion day 4 (pre-specified time point of interest), median depressive symptoms decreased in both groups, with difference-in-differences of −1.00 point (95% confidence interval −3.23 to 1.73) with ketamine compared with placebo. However, the between-group difference did not persist at other time points. Conclusions: Patient recruitment, medication administration, and clinical outcome measurement appear to be highly feasible, with blinding maintained. A fully powered trial may be warranted. Clinical trial registration: NCT05233566.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100245
JournalBJA Open
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • clinical trial
  • depression
  • feasibility trial
  • ketamine
  • postoperative depression


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