Delirium (temporary inability to focus attention and think clearly) occurs in one out of five older patients who undergo major surgery. Delirium has been associated with a longer hospital stay after surgery and even an increase in the risk of death in the months to years after surgery.
Ketamine is an anesthetic that has been used for 50 years. New research has shown that even in low doses, it has the potential to reduce delirium, persistent pain, depression and stress. The purpose of this study is to see if a single dose of ketamine in addition to regular anesthesia during surgery may reduce the risk of delirium in patients age 60 or older. Its effects on post-operative pain, feelings of depression, and stress will be measured as well.
Patients will be randomly assigned to also receive one of two low doses of ketamine or a placebo (inactive solution) during the operation. For up to three days after surgery, the research team will monitor if delirium occurs, and ask the patients about their pain. Patients will also fill out surveys regarding their experiences in the hospital and after they are discharged.