Banner Thunderbird first hospital in Arizona to begin using nitrous oxide to partially sedate children
GLENDALE, Ariz. (May 11, 2011) – A medical gas that used to go by the name of “laughing gas,” since it made patients feel slightly euphoric, will soon be used in a limited capacity at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, which is examining the benefits of the gas on pediatric patients undergoing an uncomfortable medical imaging procedure.
“Everyone is very excited to be the one of the first in the country and have a position as a leader in the forefront of this modality,” said Raul Galvez, MD, the department’s pediatric radiologist.
Beginning next week, physicians and RNs at Banner Thunderbird will begin administering nitrous oxide to children undergoing a procedure called a voiding cystourethrogram or VCUG, a procedure that helps diagnose bladder and urinary tract problems. A VCUG requires inserting a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) to inject contrast dye into the child’s bladder for purposes of capturing clear X-ray images.
Nitrous oxide is considered safe for children, and it helps the patient, as well as medical staff, because patients have less anxiety, less stress and are comfortable, relaxed and more accepting of treatment. They will also receive a pleasant smelling nasal mask to take home.
“This is a clear example of innovative thinking at its best,” said Jimmy Powell, director of the Medical Imaging department at Banner Thunderbird.
Nitrous oxide is only used by a handful of hospitals in the country for pediatric sedation, but the trend is growing. That’s because it has a number of advantages over oral or intravenous sedatives. In addition to its calming properties, nitrous oxide doesn’t require needles or taking a pill. The patient simply breathes in the gas through a mask. The effects of nitrous oxide take hold within three to five minutes versus 20 minutes or more with oral-administered sedation.
After the procedure is completed, the patient is given 100 percent pure oxygen, which helps the nitrous oxide quickly dissipate. The patient can go home right after the procedure. With IV or oral sedation, the patient typically would have to stay additional time in the hospital to fully and safely recover from sedation.
The hospital hopes to expand the use of nitrous oxide to other patients and to other areas of the hospital, such as the Emergency Department, the pediatric floor, and additional studies in Medical Imaging once the pilot study is completed.
Contact: Barry Iselin, Public Relations Specialist