Nitrous oxide is one of the most commonly used inhalational anesthetic agents used in practice. It is a cost-effective, pleasant, safe, and versatile anesthetic agent with many desirable properties like good quality analgesia, decreased awareness, accelerated induction and recovery from anesthesia, and reduced utilization of other expensive inhalational agents with potential cost savings. The use of nitrous oxide has been questioned by a lot of studies and case reports perceiving its adverse systemic, hematological, immune, and neurologic adverse effects. However, the literature in the recent past has tried to resolve the controversies related to its use. The concerns over an increase in cardiovascular complications and mortality following nitrous oxide use have been negated by recent data. However, its use in certain vulnerable populations like children with cobalamin and folate deficiency or defects in their metabolic pathways remains a cause of concern for its toxic effects. In this narrative review, we aim to discuss the pharmacological properties of nitrous oxide, the potential advantages and drawbacks of the use of nitrous oxide in children, address the neurodevelopmental and other systemic effects, and throw light on the evidence regarding the safety of nitrous oxide use and its current role in pediatric procedural sedation and anesthesia practice. The literature related to its use in the pediatric population for painful procedures and surgeries has been summarized.

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Nishkarsh Gupta, Anju Gupta, & Vishnu Narayanan.
World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics March 2022