What urologists need to know about ketamine-induced uropathy: A systematic review

Daniele Castellani, Giacomo M. Pirola, Marilena Gubbiotti, Emanuele Rubilotta, Kalyan Gudaru, Andrea Gregori, Marco Dellabella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aims: Ketamine is a general anesthetic. Dissociative effects and low cost led ketamine becoming an illegal recreational drug in young adults. Ketamine-induced uropathy (KIU) is one of the complications observed in abusers. This study aimed to provide a systematic literature review on KIU clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatments. Methods: We performed the literature search in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, and Embase using the terms ketamine and bladder. English papers on human and animal studies were accepted. Results: A total of 75 papers were selected. Regular ketamine users complain about severe storage symptoms and pelvic pain. Hydronephrosis may develop in long-term abusers and is correlated to the contracted bladder, ureteral stenosis, or vesicoureteral reflux due to ureteral involvement and/or bladder fibrosis. Cystoscopy shows ulcerative cystitis. Ketamine in urine might exert direct toxicity to the urothelium, disrupting its barrier function and enhancing cell apoptosis. The presence of ketamine/ions in the bladder wall result in neurogenic/IgE-mediated inflammation, stimulation of the inducible nitric oxide synthase-cytokines-cyclooxygenase pathway with persistent inflammation and fibrosis. Abstinence is the first therapeutic step. Anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and anticholinergics, intravesical instillation of hyaluronic acid, hydrodistension and intravesical injection of botulin toxin-A were helpful in patients with early-stage KIU. In patients with end-stage disease, the control of intractable symptoms and the increase of bladder capacity were the main recommendations to perform augmentation enterocystoplasty. Conclusions: KIU is becoming a worldwide health concern, which should be taken into account in the differential diagnosis of ulcerative cystitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1062
Number of pages14
JournalNeurourology and Urodynamics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020


  • cystitis
  • inflammation
  • ketamine
  • lower urinary tract symptoms
  • substance-related disorders
  • urinary tract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Urology


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