An Australian study has revealed that anaesthetic laughing gas or nitrous oxide, which has been discontinued for a long time because of its side effects, is safe for use.
Nitrous oxide was used during childbirth, dentistry, emergency surgery and after heart attacks till the past decade. But doctors found many complications associated with its use, including heart attack and stroke.
The Alfred Hospital's director of anaesthesia and perioperative medicine, Paul Myles, said a six-year-long study of over 7,000 surgical patients across Australia, Asia, North America and Europe showed the drug could be used just like any other commonly used anaesthetic.
"Patients are at no greater risk of complication when given nitrous oxide over another drug. The risk of heart attack, stroke or infection is very low and unaffected by the anaesthetic," he said at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists annual scientific meeting in Singapore.
Nitrous oxide is a cheap anaesthetic. It's easy to use and has been used for more than a century.
Nitrous oxide, an oxide of nitrogen, is inhaled for pain relief since the 1800s. The sweet, colourless gas is still used by dentists and for women during labour. In combination with other drugs, it can be used to anaesthetise people during surgeries.