UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Nitrous Oxide

Keywords: Nitrous Oxide (PubMed Search)

Posted: 5/24/2012 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 8/21/2019)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Nitrous Oxide(N2O) is a common gas utilized to assist with procedural sedation especially in the pediatric population and dental offices. It has a long track history of safety but also has been abused.

N2O is 35x more solube in blood than N2. This means any air-filled space can have pressure increase thus complications like pneumothorax, TM rupture and bowel distention can occur.

When abused chronically can cause bone marrow suppression, B12 deficiency and resulting in polyneruopathy.

On the street, "whip its" are N2O from whipped cream containers. Balloons filled with N2O are inhaled which combine nitrous oxide and hypoxia effects.