Does Ketamine Cause Bladder Damage?

Does Ketamine Cause Bladder Damage?

Special K and Cystitis.

In early 2008, researchers sat up and took notice of a report published in BJU International, a urology journal. “The destruction of the lower urinary tract by ketamine abuse: a new syndrome?”
The report details the discovery by physicians in Hong Kong of 59 ketamine abusers who had been admitted to urology units in local hospitals from 2000 to 2007. Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, can vary from mild to severe, and its cause is often not known. Symptoms include painful, frequent, or urgent urination. The researchers found that 71 % of the patients “showed various degrees of epithelial inflammation similar to that seen in chronic interstitial cystitis. All of 12 available bladder biopsies had histological features resembling those of interstitial cystitis.”

The authors conclude that “secondary renal damage can occur in severe cases, which might be irreversible, rendering patients dependent on dialysis.”
What is believed to be the first official report of the problem appeared in 2007 in Urology, documenting the case of nine Canadian ketamine users with bladder complications. The authors, affiliated with the University of Toronto, conclude: “As illicit ketamine becomes more easily available, ulcerative cystitis and potential long-term bladder sequelae related to its use may be a more prevalent problem confronting urologists.”

This year, similar reports from Bristol in the UK were published in Clinical Radiology. Researchers with the National Health Service and the Bristol Royal Infirmary discovered “a series of 23 patients, all with a history of ketamine abuse, who presented with severe lower urinary tract symptoms.” Various imaging techniques revealed smaller bladder volume, bladder wall thickening, inflammation, urethral strictures, and other bladder pathologies. The patients all reported symptoms similar to those reported by the earlier Hong Kong ketamine users.

The report concludes that “many users are well aware, but are often not forthcoming with this information.” They also maintain that “the key to the effective management of ketamine-induced bladder pathology is early diagnosis.”

Frequent recreational use of ketamine appears ill advised until more research can confirm the true scope of the problem.

Source: Oct. 2010

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