Perry’s Autopsy Leads to Scrutinization of Ketamine Treatments

( – Toxicology findings from actor Matthew Perry’s autopsy are spurring a conversation about health risks linked to a widely used anesthetic drug. According to a report by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner, tests detected abnormally high levels of ketamine in Perry’s system at the time of his passing.

According to the autopsy report, Perry died from the “acute effects of ketamine.” While it also listed a number of other contributory factors, including “drowning, coronary artery disease, and buprenorphine effects,” the medical examiner did not feel that they were directly responsible for the actor’s death.

Perry was found deceased in his pool on October 28. While the events that occurred within that short window of time remain unclear, the toxicology report suggests he was intoxicated. According to the medical examiner, the level of ketamine in Perry’s bloodstream was high enough to induce general anesthesia in the average patient.

Perry had been receiving ketamine infusion treatments for intractable anxiety and depression before his passing. While some fans questioned if the sessions contributed to the actor’s death, the autopsy results all but rule this out.

Ketamine has a very short half-life, or (the amount of time it takes for a drug’s concentration in the body to decrease by half), of approximately three to four hours. As Perry had not received an infusion for over a week before he died, the medical examiner determined that he must have taken the drug in some other manner.

The FDA has approved ketamine infusions as a treatment for both depression and anxiety. During an infusion, which may be delivered in a hospital or in some clinic environments, a nurse or doctor administers a low dose of ketamine intravenously over a short period of time. This has been shown to provide rapid antidepressant effects.

Ketamine is also used in surgical settings to induce general anesthesia. It has a broad safety margin and an important place in medicine when delivered appropriately by trained medical professionals. In fact, it is often the medicine of choice during twilight sedation and in cases involving sensitive patients, such as children and pets.

Unfortunately, ketamine’s dissociative effects make it widely popular on the street. When taken in large doses, it can induce euphoria, hallucinations, immobilization, and extreme dissociation to the point that the user breaks from reality. It also suppresses breathing, especially when combined with other depressant drugs, including opiates.

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