Journal Article

Urine Concentrations of Ketamine and Norketamine Following Illegal Consumption*

Karla A. Moore, Jason Sklerov, Barry Levine and Aaron J. Jacobs

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 25, issue 7, pages 583-588
Published in print October 2001 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online October 2001 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI:
Urine Concentrations of Ketamine and Norketamine Following Illegal Consumption*

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Ketamine, an anesthetic agent primarily used in veterinary medicine and pediatrics, continues to gain in popularity in the drug abuse scene or “Rave Wave” of all-night dance clubs. The Division of Forensic Toxicology Laboratory (Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner) at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, as the primary analytical laboratory for criminal investigative agencies in the Department of Defense (DOD), has seen requests for ketamine analysis rise from 1 in 1997 to 116 in 2000. This increasing abuse has led the DOD Urine Drug Testing Laboratories to consider adding ketamine screening to their random urinalysis program. However, before ketamine testing can be implemented as standard policy, concentrations of ketamine and metabolites in urine need to be evaluated after actual drug use. There is very little information regarding the pharmacokinetics of ketamine, especially concentrations of the drug or its two major metabolites, norketamine and dehydronorketamine, that can be expected in urine. In fact, dehydronorketamine has been believed to be an analytical artifact caused by the high temperatures of gas chromatography. In this paper, we attempt to resolve this issue with the development of a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) method. The urine concentrations of ketamine, norketamine and dehydronorketamine (presumptive) detected in 33 “positive” cases received in our laboratory since 1998 are reported. Quantitations were accomplished with LC-MS. Ketamine concentrations ranged from 6 to 7744 ng/mL. Norketamine concentrations ranged from 7 to 7986 ng/mL and dehydronorketamine (presumptive) concentrations ranged from 37 to 23,239 ng/mL.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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