Physiological response of rats to delivery of helium and xenon: implications for hyperpolarized noble gas imaging: Implications for hyperpolarized noble gas imaging


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The physiological effects of various hyperpolarized helium and xenon MRI-compatible breathing protocols were investigated in 17 Sprague-Dawley rats, by continuous monitoring of blood oxygen saturation, heart rate, EKG, temperature and endotracheal pressure. The protocols included alternating breaths of pure noble gas and oxygen, continuous breaths of pure noble gas, breath-holds of pure noble gas for varying durations, and helium breath-holds preceded by two helium rinses. Alternate-breath protocols up to 128 breaths caused a decrease in oxygen saturation level of less than 5% for either helium or xenon, whereas 16 continuous-breaths caused a 31.5% +/- 2.3% decrease in oxygen saturation for helium and a 30.7% +/- 1. 3% decrease for xenon. Breath-hold protocols up to 25 s did not cause the oxygen saturation to fall below 90% for either of the noble gases. Oxygen saturation values below 90% are considered pathological. At 30 s of breath-hold, the blood oxygen saturation dropped precipitously to 82% +/- 0.6% for helium, and to 76.5% +/- 7. 4% for xenon. Breath-holds longer than 10 s preceded by pre-rinses caused oxygen saturation to drop below 90%. These findings demonstrate the need for standardized noble gas inhalation procedures that have been carefully tested, and for continuous physiological monitoring to ensure the safety of the subject. We find short breath-hold and alternate-breath protocols to be safe procedures for use in hyperpolarized noble gas MRI experiments
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-264
Number of pages12
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2000


  • Helium
  • Hyperpolarized
  • Lung imaging
  • MRI
  • Physiological monitoring
  • Pulmonary medicine
  • Ventilation
  • Xenon

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