Medicinal nitrous oxide/oxygen mixtures are used as an analgesic/sedative agent.
The low solubility of nitrous oxide in biological tissue and fluid means, in clinical practice, that medicinal nitrous oxide/oxygen mixtures provide rapid pain relief and elimination of the gas from the lungs. A further safety feature is the composition of the premixed product consisting of a mixture of 50% nitrous oxide and oxygen to prevent hypoxia during administration.
Medicinal nitrous oxide/oxygen mixtures can be administered by inhalation through face or nose masks or mouthpieces provided either as two separate gases delivered through a blender device or as fixed 50:50 mixtures. Gas flow can be controlled by a demand-valve activated by the patient’s inspired breath. The equipment is designed to be portable and easy to use both inside and outside hospital.
Because medicinal nitrous oxide/oxygen mixtures are administered by inhalation and therefore are non-invasive, there is no need to insert a cannula or set up an intravenous line. This means that analgesia/sedation with the mixtures does not need to be administered by a specialist anaesthetist but can be administered by trained staff such as paramedics, nurses and midwives.