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Trust doctors lead the way in Xenon anaesthesia research


An anaesthesia research team from the Trust is midway through an international study which is exploring the benefits of using a revolutionary new anaesthetic. Central Manchester Foundation Trust is the only centre in the UK where this research is being carried out.

The new method of anaesthesia uses the naturally-occurring gas 'Xenon' and a may provide a whole raft of benefits for the patient and healthcare professional when compared with alternative methods.  Early studies have shown impressive protection of the heart and brain during surgery.

The research team consists of Dr Nigel Harper Consultant Anaesthetist (principal investigator), Dr Steve Gold, Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Alice Arch, senior anaesthetic trainee, and Mr Phil Thomas, Chief Technical Officer. The trial is sponsored by Air Liquide.

Potential benefits to patients:

  • Protection of heart muscle from ischemia (damage to cells caused by low oxygen levels) - particularly important in heart disease.
  • Protection of the brain from ischemia
  • Xenon works quickly and wears off very rapidly with no hangover

Other benefits:

  • Xenon has no odour and is pleasant to breathe
  • Xenon has pain relieving properties
  • Unlike other anaesthetic gases, Xenon is kind to the environment

Xenon is also being used by a team in Bristol to help prevent brain injury in babies who are starved of oxygen immediately after birth.  

Until now, high cost has restricted the use of the Xenon. Recent technological advances have reduced the cost of Xenon anaesthesia, increasing the possibility of offering this unique anaesthetic to more patients in the future.

Dr Gold, who is helping to run the clinical trial, said: "Xenon has great potential; it is a superior anaesthetic which also protects the body from potential harm during surgery."