Heliox therapy for pneumothorax: New indication for an old remedy

J. Barr*, G. Lushkov, R. Starinsky, B. Klin, M. Berkevitch, G. Eshel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study objective: To evaluate a new method of treating pneumothorax: having the subject breathe a helium/oxygen mixture (heliox). Methods: We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled study of nine white rabbits weighing 2.5 to 3.5 kg. Experimental pneumothorax was induced in all rabbits with the injection of 20 mL of air into the pleural space. The rabbits then breathed heliox, oxygen, or room air for 2 hours. Chest radiography was performed 5 minutes after induction of pneumothorax, then at 1 and 2 hours. We determined pneumothorax size on the chest radiograph by measuring the interpleural distance and expressing it as a percent age of the hemithorax. Results: At 2 hours the pneumothoraces in the heliox group bad diminished from 17.50%±50% to .17%±.29%; in the oxygen breathing group they had diminished from 17.83%±2.25% to .50%±.50%; and in the air-breathing group they had diminished from 18.50%±3.12% to 17.33%±.25%. The difference between the air-breathing and the oxygen-breathing or heliox-breathing animals was highly significant; no significant difference was found between the oxygen and heliox groups (P<.0001). Conclusion: Heliox, a safe and convenient therapy, is as effective as oxygen in reducing the volume of an experimental pneumothorax in rabbits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-162
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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