Definition of Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas): A gas that can cause general anesthesia. Nitrous oxide is sometimes given in the company of other anesthetic agents but it is not used today as the only anesthetic agent because the concentration of nitrous oxide needed to produce anesthesia is close to the concentration that seriously lowers the blood oxygen level and creates a hazardous hypoxic state.
Nitrous oxide figured in the history of anesthesiology. In 1840 a dentist named Horace Wells had the idea that, with the recently discovered "exhilarating or laughing gas", teeth might be extracted without pain. Under its influence he had one of his own teeth pulled in 1844 and afterwards frequently used it in his practice.
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012
Back to MedTerms online medical dictionary A-Z List
Need help identifying pills and medications?
- Allergic Skin Disorders
- Bacterial Skin Diseases
- Bites and Infestations
- Diseases of Pigment
- Fungal Skin Diseases
- Medical Anatomy and Illustrations
- Noncancerous, Precancerous & Cancerous Tumors
- Oral Health Conditions
- Papules, Scales, Plaques and Eruptions
- Scalp, Hair and Nails
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Vascular, Lymphatic and Systemic Conditions
- Viral Skin Diseases
- Additional Skin Conditions