Helium and other alternative insufflation gases for laparoscopy: A review

S. J. Neuhaus, A. Gupta, D. I. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is currently the insufflation gas of choice for laparoscopy. It fulfills most of the requirements for an ideal insufflation gas, being colorless, noninflammable, and rapidly excreted from the circulation. However, its use is associated with adverse cardiorespiratory effects, especially in patients with preexisting cardiorespiratory compromise. Methods: The descriptive review of relevant literature, moreover, has been proposed that it increases the incidence of port site (wound) metastases from abdominal cancers when used during oncological surgery. In addition, it may cause postoperative pain due to peritoneal irritation, and its use is associated with physiological and immunological impairment. Hence, there is scope for the investigation of alternative insufflation gases. Other possibilities include gasless laparoscopy, helium, nitrous oxide, (N2O), and argon. Results: Helium insufflation has been used extensively in animal models but only to a limited extent in humans. In experimental studies, it has been shown to produce fewer changes in cardiorespiratory and intraperitoneal immunological status than CO2 insufflation, and its use is associated with less spread of tumors to port sites in a variety of small animal tumor models. However, helium also has the potential for some adverse effects. Helium pneumothorax probably resolves more slowly than CO2 pneumothorax, and helium gas embolism is tolerated poorly in animal models. The clinical significance of these potential problems has yet to be determined. Conclusions: Although the use of alternative gases appears to be promising, further evaluation is needed within both clinical and laboratory settings before their routine clinical use can be supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-560
Number of pages8
JournalSurgical Endoscopy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Argon
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Gasless laparoscopy
  • Helium
  • Insufflation gases
  • Laparoscopy
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Pneumoperitoneum


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