Ketamine Cystitis Is Real & Treatable

Urinary Frequency, Urgency, Pressure, Pelvic Pain, Incontinence, Hematuria

Welcome

  • Ketamine cystitis (or ketamine bladder syndrome) is a fairly new reported side effect to K use, first documented in 2007. Since then clinicians in Asia, Canada, the USA and Europe have reported treating young, teenage ketamine abusers who appear to have severe and possibly irreversible bladder, kidney, liver and possible brain damage.   
  • Extreme ketamine use can injure the bladder, causing ulcers (wounds) and fibrosis (stiffening of the bladder walls and shrinkage). Patients often struggle with urinary frequency, urgency, pressure, pain, incontinence and/or bleeding from the bladder.  They can receive a variety of diagnoses including ulcerative bladder, interstitial cystitis or ketamine cystitis.
  • Ketamine may be legitimately prescribed to pain patients suffering from severe neuropathic pain or for malignant or “end of life” pain control.  Our intent with this website is NOT TO DISCOURAGE the use of ketamine for legitimate pain care. Rather we want to raise awareness for this potential side effect.
  • In recreational and/or criminal use, ketamine is known as a “date rape drug” for its dissociated amnesia effect and has quickly outgrown heroin and methamphetamine as the drug of choice due to its low cost and easy accessibility in many parts of the world.  It is commonly used at RAVE parties and is known as a “Club Drug,” often mixed with ecstasy. A mild hallucinogenic, it has several street  names including:    Cat Tranquilizer, Cat Valium, Jet, K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K, Super K, Special La Coke, Super Acid, Vitamin K
  • This website was created to raise awareness about the ketamine and its potential risk of bladder symptoms.  We hope to help young ketamine addicts learn about the risks of this drug and to provide resource center for clinicians currently attempting to work with these patients.  It is a project of the Interstitial Cystitis Network.

What are the symptoms?

  • urinary frequency - a need to empty your bladder every few minutes. Ketamine causes bladders to shrink and become fibrotic (stiff), only able to hold a small amount of urine at a time. 
  • urinary urgency - a sudden need to urinate
  • urinary pressure - a constant sensation of fullness in your bladder that is unrelieved by urination
  • pelvic and bladder pain - pain can be  severe, particularly as the bladder fills with urine.
  • hematuria - visible blood in the urine.
  • incontinence - leakage of urine

How is ketamine cystitis diagnosed?

Patients are assessed based upon their symptoms. Physicians may do a cystoscopy as well as other functional tests such as a voiding cystogram and/or urodynamics. A hydrodistention with cystoscopy may be used to examine the bladder wall. Patients with ketamine induced bladder damage have varying degrees of irritation, inflammation, petechial hemorrhages (bleeding blood vessels) or larger Hunner’s lesions. Bladder capacity is also reduced dramatically. Normal bladder capacity may be 500cc’s however some ketamine addicts can only hold 50cc’s of urine or less. 

It is essential that physicians ask younger patients if they have, or are, using ketamine.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a veterinary anesthetic that has hallucinogenic properties and also impairs memory. Known as the poor mans cocaine and a cheaper alternative to heroin, ketamine has also been used as a “date rape” drug. Often cut into other drugs, ketamine has gained popularity at RAVES due to the “high” and “k-hole” it can give..  It can be taken orally, inhaled or injected into the muscle.


Ketamine is also legitimately used in pain management, particularly end of life care. It has gained popularity in pain management circles as an alternative to opioid medications. Bladder damage can happen with both legal and illegal use.