Laparoscopy: Searching for the proper insufflation gas

T. Menes, H. Spivak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although many aspects of laparoscopic surgery have been determined, the question of which insufflation gas is the best arises repeatedly. The aim of this study was to review the findings on the major gases used today in order to provide information and guidelines for the laparoscopic surgeon. Methods: We reviewed the literature for clinical and laboratory studies on the currently used laparoscopic insufflation gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), helium (He), air, nitrogen (N2), and argon (Ar). The following parameters were evaluated: acid-base changes, hemodynamic and respiratory sequelae, hepatic and renal blood flow changes, increase in intracranial pressure, outcome of venous emboli, and port-site tumor growth. Results: The major advantage of CO2 is its rapid dissolution in the event of venous emboli. Hemodynamic and acid-base changes with CO2 insufflation usually are mild and clinically negligible for most patients. Although N2O is advantageous for procedures requiring local/regional anesthesia, it does not suppress combustion. Findings show that Ar may have unwanted hemodynamic effects, especially on hepatic blood flow. There are almost no hemodynamic or acid-base sequelae with the use of He, air, and N2, but they dissolve slowly and carry a potential risk of lethal venous emboli. Conclusions: Clearly, CO2 maintains its role as the primary insufflation gas in laparoscopy, but N2O has a role in some cases of depressed pulmonary function or in local/regional anesthesia cases. Other gases have no significant advantage over CO2 or N2O and should be used only in protocol studies. The relation of port-site metastasis to a specific type of gas requires further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1056
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000


  • Insufflation gas
  • Intracranial pressure
  • Laparoscopy
  • Port-site metastases
  • Venous emboli


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