Volume 37, Issue 4 (July 1992)

    Asphyxial Deaths from the Recreational Use of Nitrous Oxide

    (Received 3 September 1991; accepted 2 December 1991)

    CODEN: JFSOAD

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    Abstract

    The recreational use of nitrous oxide is widespread. Nitrous oxide for recreational use is usually obtained from anesthesia tanks or whipped-cream machine chargers or cans. Twenty previously described deaths associated with recreational nitrous-oxide use describe anesthesia tanks and whipped-cream machine dispensors as a source. Five deaths associated with nitrous oxide use are presented; two involving whipped-cream cannisters as the source, two involving anesthesia tanks, and one involving a racing fuel tank as a source of nitrous oxide. Autopsy findings in our cases were subtle or negative, but usually suggestive of asphyxia. Through a laboratory simulation, we have confirmed that nitrous oxide displaces oxygen in a closed space, which probably leads to asphyxia. A review of the literature, neuropharmacology, and pathophysiology of nitrous oxide use is also presented.


    Author Information:

    Lloyd, AW
    Staff anesthesiologist, Ball Memorial Hospital, Muncie, IN

    Doedens, DJ
    Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Indiana University School of Medicine,

    Wesche, DL
    Resident, Ball Memorial Hospital, Muncie, IN

    Clark, MA
    Fellow in forensic pathology and associate professor of pathology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN

    Wagner, SA
    Fellow in forensic pathology and associate professor of pathology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN


    Stock #: JFS13286J

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS13286J

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    Author
    Title Asphyxial Deaths from the Recreational Use of Nitrous Oxide
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30