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September 1972

Nitrous Oxide as a Coolant in Ophthalmic Surgery

Author Affiliations

Johannesburg, South Africa
From the Cryosurgical Research Unit, Natalspruit Hospital, Alberton, South Africa, and the South African Institute of Medical Research, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1972;88(3):322-324. doi:10.1001/archopht.1972.01000030324020

Recent work, both at a clinical and at an experimental level, has revealed the superiority of nitrous oxide gas over carbon dioxide gas when used in a Joule-Thomson cryoprobe. The boiling point of nitrous oxide is −88.46 C as compared to carbon dioxide which has a boiling point of only −78.5 C. Also, the freezing temperature of nitrous oxide is −90.81 C, as compared to −56.6 C for carbon dioxide, which is also its triple point (solid carbon dioxide starts forming below this temperature). Therefore, not only is a maximum operational temperature of lower than −80 C possible, but more precise control of the instrument can be obtained by reducing the gas pressure from 750 pounds per square inch (psi) to 600 psi, as no solid is formed. This allows the probe tip temperature to be varied accurately from − 40 C to below −80C.

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