Breathing Hydrogen-Oxygen Mixture Decreases Inspiratory Effort in Patients with Tracheal Stenosis

Respiration. 2019;97(1):42-51. doi: 10.1159/000492031. Epub 2018 Sep 18.


Background: Hydrogen-oxygen mixture (H2-O2) may reduce airway resistance in patients with acute severe tracheal stenosis, yet data supporting the clinical use of H2-O2 are insufficient.

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of breathing H2-O2 in acute severe tracheal stenosis.

Methods: Thirty-five consecutive patients with severe acute tracheal stenosis were recruited in this prospective self-control study. Air, H2-O2 and O2 inhalation was given in 4 consecutive breathing steps: air for 15 min, H2-O2 (6 L per min, H2:O2 = 2: 1) for 15 min, oxygen (3 L per min) for 15 min, and H2-O2 for 120 min. The primary endpoint was inspiratory effort as assessed by diaphragm electromyography (EMGdi); the secondary endpoints were transdiaphragmatic pressure (Pdi), Borg score, vital signs, and impulse oscillometry (IOS). The concentration of H2 in the ambient environment was obtained with 12 monitors. Adverse reactions during the inhalation were recorded.

Results: The mean reduction in the EMGdi under H2-O2 was 10.53 ± 6.83%. The EMGdi significantly decreased during 2 H2-O2 inhalation steps (Steps 2 and 4) compared with air (Step 1) and O2 (Step 3) (52.95 ± 15.00 vs. 42.46 ± 13.90 vs. 53.20 ± 14.74 vs. 42.50 ± 14.12% for Steps 1 through 4, p < 0.05). The mean reduction in the Pdi under H2-O2 was 4.77 ± 3.51 cmH2O. Breathing H2-O2 significantly improved the Borg score and resistance parameters of IOS but not vital signs. No adverse reactions occurred. H2 was undetectable in the environment throughout the procedure.

Conclusions: Breathing H2-O2 may reduce the inspiratory effort in patients with acute severe tracheal stenosis and can be used for this purpose safely.

Keywords: Airway resistance; Diaphragm function; Hydrogen-oxygen; Tracheal stenosis; Work of breathing.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Airway Resistance / physiology*
  • Diaphragm / physiopathology*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oscillometry
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tracheal Stenosis / diagnosis
  • Tracheal Stenosis / physiopathology
  • Tracheal Stenosis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Work of Breathing / drug effects*


  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen