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The use of helium-oxygen mixture (heliox) for ventilation has an advantage in patients with obstruction of the airways. The physical properties of helium enable an easier gas flow through the airways; this enables easier breathing for the patient when compared to standard ventilation of air. A high cost of heliox falls within the factors that limit the use of heliox in clinical practice. At present, heliox is administered by use of an open circuit. The aim of this study is to propose a way of heliox administration that reduces heliox consumption but does not affect the positive heliox effects upon the airway resistance. To minimize consumption of heliox, a semi-closed circuit has been designed. The circuit is a modification of an anesthetic circuit composed of parts with the lowest possible resistances. As any circuit has its own resistance, the evaluation of its possible negative effect upon the work of breathing of patients with exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been conducted. A semi-closed circuit for heliox administration has been constructed and evaluated. The intrinsic resistance of both the inspiratory and expiratory limbs of the circuit is less than 140 Pa.s/l. This resistance does not represent a significant workload for a patient with COPD exacerbation whose airway resistance is 10 to 20 fold higher. The designed semi-closed circuit offers a potential benefit of heliox in patients with COPD exacerbation.


Karel Roubík, Roman Zazula, Adéla Strnadová, Vladimír Zábrodský, Antonín Spálený, Martin Müller, Jan Chlumský, Tomáš Tyll. Spontaneous breathing of heliox using a semi-closed circuit: a bench study. The International journal of artificial organs. 2012 Jun;35(6):466-70

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PMID: 22466996

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