Prehospital administration of nitrous oxide for control of pain

Ann Emerg Med. 1981 May;10(5):247-51. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(81)80049-2.


The effects of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen and of 30% nitrous oxide and 70% oxygen were evaluated in 88 patients with significant pain while in the prehospital setting. Under the telemetry physicians' supervision, EMT-Ps directed patients in the technique of self-administration of the analgesic gas. Fifty percent (36/72) reported complete or almost complete amelioration of pain; all but 15% (11/72) reported some degree of relief. No patients experienced clinically deleterious side effects, although 48% (41/85) reported side effects, of which 90% were mild. The analgesic properties, lack of complications, quick onset and short duration of action, and acceptance by patients, physicians, and paramedics make N2O a nearly ideal analgesic agent for advanced life support use in the prehospital relief of significant pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrous Oxide / adverse effects
  • Nitrous Oxide / therapeutic use*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Preoperative Care*


  • Analgesics
  • Nitrous Oxide