Does counterperfusion supersaturation cause gas cysts in pneumatosis cystoides coli, and can breathing heliox reduce them?

Lancet. 1995 May 13;345(8959):1220-2. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(95)91996-1.


The pathogenesis of pneumatosis cystoides coli remains obscure in the absence of an explanation for why pockets of gas should form in the first place and why they should be maintained in the wall and mesentery of the colon. Counterperfusion supersaturation could explain the formation and location of the gas cysts, which occur mostly near blood vessels on the mesenteric border of the colon, and the absence of methane gas in them. The hypothesis can be tested by treating patients with pneumatosis cystoides coli with heliox.

MeSH terms

  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Colon / blood supply
  • Colonic Diseases / etiology*
  • Colonic Diseases / therapy
  • Diffusion
  • Helium / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitrogen / physiology
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumatosis Cystoides Intestinalis / etiology*
  • Pneumatosis Cystoides Intestinalis / therapy


  • Helium
  • heliox
  • Hydrogen
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen