Experimental study of effect of embolism of different laparoscopy insufflation gases

Patrick Yau, David I. Watson, Thiery Lafullarde, Glyn G. Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: Whilst carbon dioxide is the gas generally used for insufflation during laparoscopy, several studies have reported adverse effects specifically associated with its use. These effects may be attributable to chemical, metabolic, or immunologic effects specific to CO2. Because helium is chemically, physiologically, and pharmacologically inert, it has been suggested as a possible substitute insufflation gas. However, there has been concern about the potential implications of venous gas embolism during helium insufflation. The aim of this study was to examine the physiological effect of the intravenous injection of He and CO2 in an experimental model.

Materials and Methods: Eleven domestic white pigs were randomly allocated to receive multiple intravenous injections of increasing volumes of either CO2 or He gas. Cardiorespiratory function was measured, and the intravenous volumes of gas that resulted in cardiac arrest were determined.

Result: Cardiorespiratory functional measures returned to normal quicker after CO2 than after He injection. Helium injection quickly overwhelmed the animal's ability to compensate and resulted in death at a lower volume than did CO2 injection.

Conclusions: Gas embolism during He insufflation is more likely to be lethal than is CO2 embolism. This scenario is most likely following Veress needle insertion into a large vein. Therefore, if He is to be used for insufflation during clinical laparoscopy, the possibility of venous injection should be minimized by avoiding Veress needle use. Further investigation of the safety of He insufflation is warranted before a role during clinical laparoscopy can be recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000
Externally publishedYes


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