Recent developments

Xenon is Greek for stranger. It was discovered in 1898 and found to be the only noble gas to be anaesthetic under normobaric conditions. Xenon is extremely scarce with an average room containing only 4ml.

Manufacture is by fractional distillation of air and costs 2000 times more than N 2 O.

Commercial uses include lasers, high intensity lamps, flash bulbs, aerospace, X-ray tubes and medicine.

Physical properties

Anaesthetic agent

      1. Whole body paraesthesia & hypo-algesia.
      2. Euphoria & increased psychomotor activity.
      3. Analgesia with partial amnesia (after 3-4min).
      4. Surgical anaesthesia with a degree of muscle relaxation.

Specific effects on the body

Potential ways to make xenon anaesthesia economically acceptable.

Practical use

  1. Nitrogen must be washed out by giving a high flow of pure oxygen for at least 5 minutes
  2. Normal induction and muscle relaxation
  3. After intubation connect the patient to an appropriate anaesthesia delivery system
  4. The hypnotic concentration of 40-45%  is achieved after 1.5min
  5. The anaesthetic concentration of 60-70% takes approximately 8 minutes.


Owing to environmental concerns there may be no alternative but to use xenon even if it incurs an increase in cost.