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The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide A Multidisciplinary Reflection Shannon Rivers, BS, CCLS II Leslie Mellin, RN, BSN

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The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide. A Multidisciplinary Reflection Shannon Rivers, BS, CCLS II Leslie Mellin , RN, BSN. Objectives. Understand the history and best use practices for Nitrous Oxide Review the process of starting a new Nitrous Oxide program - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


Page 1: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

A Multidisciplinary Reflection

Shannon Rivers, BS, CCLS IILeslie Mellin, RN, BSN

Page 2: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide


• Understand the history and best use practices for Nitrous Oxide

• Review the process of starting a new Nitrous Oxide program

• Discuss different Child Life techniques to use during Nitrous Oxide sedation

• Open discussion

Page 3: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

History of Nitrous Oxide N2O2•Discovered in the late 1700’s and used for recreation purposes and side show exhibitions.

•In 1844, Dr. Gardner Colton hosted an exhibition to demonstrate the “exhilarating” effects of inhaling N2O2. Horace Wells, a dentist, witnessed a participant receive this gas. The volunteer started euphorically jumping around and in the process injured his leg by creating a deep bloody laceration. The volunteer displayed no evidence of pain. This resulted in Horace Wells experimenting with the properties of N2O2 in his dental practice for tooth extractions. And so the start of Nitrous Oxide analgesic and sedation properties start.

Page 4: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide Distribution Properties

•N2O2 is a sweet smelling, colorless gas.

•At room temperature it is a gas; however, when compressed into a cylinder, it becomes a liquid.

•Frost may be seen on the tank surface during prolonged and continuous use.

•N2O2 is quickly eliminated in the lungs.

•Monitor with minimum of pulse oximeter and increase as provider deems necessary.

Page 5: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Desirable Characteristics of Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen Sedation

•Analgesic properties (pain control)• It has been reported that a mixture of 20% N2O2/80% O2 is

equivalent to 15mg of morphine.•Anxiolytic properties (sedative effects) • N2O2/O2 sedation has been shown to facilitate positive

behavior and lowered anxiety levels on sequential visits in pediatric patients.

•Amnesic properties• Diminishes recall of severity of pain or duration of procedure.

•Onset of Action• Clinical effects begin within 30 seconds, peak effects within 5


Page 6: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

•Titration• Allows the exact amount of the drug to be administered to

each individual patient.•Recovery• After breathing approximately 2 minutes of pure oxygen at

the completion of N2O2 administration, the effects of the gas will be dissipated

•Elimination• Approximately 99% is excreted unchanged via the lungs. It

is 99% eliminated from the body within 5-10 minutes after discontinuation. Approx. 1% is excreted over 24hrs via the skin and lungs.

Desirable Characteristics, cont

Page 7: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide Oral/IV Sedation

Rapid Onset in less than 30 seconds Onset is from 1-10 minutes

Ability to titrate to desired effect Inability to easily titrate

Minimal side effects Risk of aspiration, respiratory depression, hypoxia, hypotension

Able to provide analgesic properties No analgesic properties

Painless administration IV administration requires painful injection

Not metabolized Metabolized by the liver

Rapid recovery in 5-10 minutes Recovery time in 30-60+ minutes

Page 8: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Contraindications and Adverse Effects

•N2O2 diffuses rapidly into air-filled cavities causing expansion of those spaces. Therefore, N2O2/O2 should not be used in patients with pneumothorax, intestinal obstruction, middle ear occlusion, maxillofacial injuries, post intraocular surgery(w/in 10wks), craniotomy(w/in 3wks), increased ICP, and CF.

•N2O2 should also not be used on patients with B12 deficiency, COPD, bleomyocin therapy, impaired level of consciousness, and first trimester of pregnancy.

•Health care workers who are pregnant should not be in room during administration.

Page 9: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Potential Nitrous Oxide Procedures

•IV start, PICC insertions, lab draw (promotes vasodilation)•Botox injections•VCUG•Echocardiogram•EEG, LTM hook-up•I&D, dressing change and wound debridement•Eye exams•NG tube placement, pH probe placement•US•Injections-IM,SQ or port access•Sutures•Closed reductions (with pain meds, i.e. Fentanyl) •Foreign body removal (ears, nose)•Minor surgical procedures

Page 10: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Sedation Levels and Side Effects•The American society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Associates consider Nitrous Oxide sedation <50% minimal sedation (can be RN administered) • Anything over 50% must be MD admisitered

•Titration is key to maintain a relaxed and therapeutic level

•Patient may experience: • Tingling in extremities and/or near mouth, heaviness in legs

and arms, body warmth, light feeling, flushed in face and neck, circumoral numbness, relaxed happy feelings and giddiness.

Page 11: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Tips for Successful Nitrous Oxide Administration

•Always combine nitrous oxide with some type of distraction.• Nitrous oxide increases imaginative suggestibility and

imaginative ability. • Guided imagery, videos, I-Pad apps, story telling and singing

can direct the child's focus away from the procedure. • Avoid too much distraction by several people, the child may

lose focus and become agitated

•Include a qualified child life specialist.

•If the procedure is expected to be modestly painful use topical or local anesthesia.

Page 12: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Tips for Successful Nitrous Oxide Administration

• Plan for success! Start with school age cooperative patients who are to undergo only a mildly painful procedure.

•• Don’t be discouraged by failure. Some children simply do not

relax with nitrous oxide administration.•• Parents must be informed that their child will not be deeply

asleep during the sedation and may respond to pain with a flinch or vocalization. Parents may be reassured that many children do not recall the painful portion of the procedure.

Page 13: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Our Multidisciplinary Workgroup

• Anesthesia• Sedation credentialed Physicians (procedural and ED)• Nursing Administration (Director and Manager)• Education Specialist• Members of SJCH Pain Committee• Nursing (specifically from procedural areas)• Child Life Specialists• BioMedical/engineering

Page 14: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Equipment Set Up and Regulatory Overview

• Porter MXR E Stand Package• N2O2 Administration Policy• N2O2 gas• Scavenging system• Safety, Anesthesia Gas Scavenging Policy• Monitoring equipment • Suction and Emergency Resuscitation Equipment• Safety Checks

Page 15: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Child Life Preparation• Similar to pre-op surgery mask prep• Child can pick a flavor to paint their mask• Developmentally appropriate mask play and explanation for

“special/sleepy air”

• Patient with still be awake, just very relaxed

• Prepare highly sensitive/anxious patients about the air tank noise (vacuum cleaner)

• Promote control by encouraging patient to hold the mask on their face

Page 16: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Distraction During Nitrous Oxide

• Parental presence during N2O2 administration • Hospital policies may vary• Prepare parents and use them to help assess patient’s level

of sedation

• One Voice

• Minimal sensory stimulation• TV/movie, music, low-stim I-pad game, VECTA• Guided Imagery, story telling

Page 17: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

During Nitrous, cont.

• CCLS can help assess when patient is feeling the full effects of nitrous• Parent assessment is especially helpful for delayed and non-

verbal patients• Ask pt “Do you feel any changes?”, “Are you comfortable?”

• Common signs of “full effect”:• Loses tone and grip in hand/arm• May close eyes • May have non-focused gaze; looking “off in space”• Less responsive to verbal command• Laughs easily

Page 18: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Recovery after Nitrous Oxide

• Must be observed for 15 minutes• Engage in recovery play & distraction• Offer food and drink

• Follow up with patient and family regarding their experience• Used primarily for our Botox patients • Only 1 family preferred Versed only

• VCUG patients still struggle with imaging after catheter placement

Page 19: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Struggles & Barriers

• Anesthesia accustomed to pt’s being fully sedated• No parents allowed back or at bedside

• Anesthesia schedule was very limited

• Minor equipment malfunctions

• Need more credentialed RNs• Expensive, 2-day training

• Equipment cost and storage

Page 20: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

The Future of Nitrous Oxide

• More sedation credentialed physicians and nurses

• Expand to the Pediatric Emergency Department• Ideal for fracture reductions, sutures, abscess I&D, and

foreign body removals

• Expand Nitrous schedule • Offered on more days and for a wider range of procedures

• Full time radiology/Day Hospital Child Life Specialist • NPO changes • Floor/bedside procedures

Page 21: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide

Do you have a Nitrous Oxide program at your hospital?

Have you experienced any challenges or successes?

How do you best distract during Nitrous Oxide administration?

Q&A and Discussion Time

Page 22: The Highs & Lows of Nitrous Oxide


••• Malamed, S: Sedation A Guide to Patient Management.

Mosby, 4th ed• Clark & Brunick: Handbook of Nitrous Oxide & Oxygen

Sedation. Mosby, 3rd ed.• Luhmann, Kennedy, Porter, Miller, and Jaffe, Annal of

Emergency Medicine, 37:1, January 2001• Zier, Tarrago and Liu, Anesthesia & Analgesia, May 2010

vol.110 no. 5 1399-1405• Babl, Oakley, Seaman, Barnett and Sharwood, Pediatrics

Digest, Vol. 121, No. 3, March 1, 2008, p e528-e532

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