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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gas - No Laughing Matter

The safety of the common anaesthetic known as laughing gas is under a cloud after a new study linked it to higher rates of pneumonia, wound infections and possibly even heart attacks. The Australian-led research team found patients kept unconscious during surgery with anaesthetics other than nitrous oxide suffered fewer life threatening complications.

Yet nitrous oxide remained "near routine" in surgeries, despite accumulating evidence of its dangerous side-effects, the researchers warned. The trial involved 2000 patients undergoing major surgery in 13 hospitals. Anaesthetists believe the gas is safe where exposure is minimal, such as women in labour.


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