Driving Simulator Performance after Administration of Analgesic Doses of Ketamine with Dexmedetomidine or Fentanyl

Amie C. Hayley, Luke A. Downey, Maja Green, Brook Shiferaw, Michaela Kenneally, Michael Keane, Mark Adams, Yahya Shehabi

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose/Background As a sole agent, ketamine acutely compromises driving ability; however, performance after coadministration with the adjuvant sedating agents dexmedetomidine or fentanyl is unclear. Methods/Procedures Using a randomized within-subject design, 39 participants (mean ± SD age, 28.4 ± 5.8 years) received 0.3 mg/kg bolus followed by 0.15 mg kg-1 h-1 infusion of ketamine (3-hour duration), in addition to either (i) 0.7 μg kg-1 h-1 infusion of dexmedetomidine for 1.5 hours (n = 19; KET/DEX) or (ii) three 25 μg fentanyl injections for 1.5 hours (n = 20; KET/FENT). Whole blood drug concentrations were determined during ketamine only, at coadministration (KET/DEX or KET/FENT) and at 2 hours after treatment. Subjective effects were determined using a standardized visual analog scale. Driving performance was assessed at baseline and at posttreatment using a validated computerized driving simulator. Primary outcomes included SD of lateral position (SDLP) and steering variability (SV). Findings/Results Administration of ketamine with dexmedetomidine but not fentanyl significantly increased SDLP (F1,18 = 22.60, P < 0.001) and reduced SV (F1,18 = 164.42, P < 0.001) 2 hours after treatment. These deficits were comparatively greater for the KET/DEX group than for the KET/FENT group (t37 =-5.21 [P < 0.001] and t37 = 5.22 [P < 0.001], (respectively). For the KET/DEX group, vehicle control (SV) and self-rated performance (visual analog scale), but not SDLP, was inversely associated with ketamine and norketamine blood concentrations (in nanograms per milliliter). Greater subjective effects were moderately associated with driving deficits. Implications/Conclusions Driving simulator performance is significantly compromised after coadministration of analgesic range doses of ketamine with dexmedetomidine but not fentanyl. An extended period of supervised driver abstinence is recommended after treatment, with completion of additional assessments to evaluate home readiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-454
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • dexmedetomidine
  • driving
  • fentanyl
  • ketamine
  • performance
  • SDLP

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