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September 2022

Anesthesiology. 1983 Mar; 58(3): 250-6.

Effects of nitrous oxide, transcutaneous electrical stimulation, and their combination on brain potentials elicited by painful stimulation.

Chapman CR, Schimek F, Gehrig JD, Gerlach R, Colpitts YH.

Combinations of transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) and inhalation of nitrous oxide with oxygen have been used for surgical pain control and this report explored the possible synergism of these two treatments. During painful dental stimulation, 18 subjects gave pain reports while event-related potentials were recorded at vertex. Electrical stimulation was delivered bilaterally at the LI-4 acupuncture points on the hands at 20 Hz, mean = 9.65 mA intensity. Inhalation treatment was nitrous oxide 33% with oxygen. Testing was done on two days to permit evaluation of each treatment alone and their combination. Treatment sequence was counterbalanced. Base-to-peak amplitude and peak latency scores were derived for the event-related potentials under each testing condition. Both stimulation and inhalation treatments altered event-related potential scores and pain report. The combination treatment was significantly more effective than stimulation alone but was not significantly more effective than nitrous oxide alone. Nitrous oxide with oxygen alone reduced peak amplitude at 250 ms and 350 ms, as well as pain report. It increased peak latency at 100 ms. Transcutaneous electrical stimulation alone decreased peak amplitude and latency at 150 ms and increased peak latency at 350 ms. Decreased peak amplitude at 250 ms and increased peak latency at 150 ms were observed when inhalation was added to stimulation, and there was also a significant reduction in pain report. Nine control subjects were studied to demonstrate that analgesic changes were not due to repeated testing. These outcomes demonstrated no synergism between the stimulation and inhalation treatments. The data suggest that nitrous oxide blocks the effects of electrical stimulation at LI-4.

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