:"See Heliox (cryogenic equipment) for another use of the word Heliox "

Heliox is a breathing gas composed of a mixture of helium (He) and oxygen (O2).

Heliox has been used medically since the 1930s, and although the medical community adopted it initially to alleviate symptoms of upper airway obstruction, its range of medical uses has since expanded greatly, mostly because of the low density of the gas. [cite journal |author=Barach AL, Eckman M |title=THE EFFECTS OF INHALATION OF HELIUM MIXED WITH OXYGEN ON THE MECHANICS OF RESPIRATION |journal=J. Clin. Invest. |volume=15 |issue=1 |pages=47–61 |year=1936 |month=January |pmid=16694380 |pmc=424760 |doi=10.1172/JCI100758 |url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI100758 |accessdate=2008-07-08] cite web |url=http://www.bocmedical.co.uk/product_information/heliox.asp |title=Heliox product information |author=BOC Medical (a trading name of BOC Limited)] Heliox is also used in saturation diving and sometimes during the deep phase of technical dives.cite book |title=US Navy Diving Manual, 6th revision |year=2008 |publisher=US Naval Sea Systems Command |location=United States |url=http://www.supsalv.org/00c3_publications.asp?destPage=00c3&pageID=3.9 |accessdate=2008-07-08 ] cite book |title=Bennett and Elliott's physiology and medicine of diving, 5th Rev ed. |last=Brubakk |first=A. O. |coauthors=T. S. Neuman |year=2003 |publisher=Saunders Ltd. |location=United States |isbn=0702025712 |pages=800 ]

Medical uses

In medicine heliox generally refers to a mixture of 21% O2 (the same as air) and 79% He, although other combinations are available.

Airway resistance is dictated by the diameter of the airways and by the density of the inspired gas. Therefore when nitrogen (of air) is replaced by helium, airway resistance is reduced due to the lower density of the inspired gas. This means that when one breathes Heliox, airway resistance is lowered, thereby requiring less mechanical energy to ventilate the lungs, or the "Work of Breathing" (WOB). Heliox is used mainly in the alleviation of many medical conditions that involve a decrease in airway diameter (and consequently increased airway resistance), such as upper airway obstruction, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiolitis and croup. Patients with these conditions may suffer a range of symptoms including dyspnea (breathlessness), hypoxemia (below-normal oxygen content in the arterial blood) and eventually a weakening of the respiratory muscles due to exhaustion, which can lead to respiratory failure and require intubation and mechanical ventilation; Heliox may reduce all these effects, making it easier for the patient to breathe. cite web |url=http://www.bocmedical.co.uk/product_information/Medical_Helium_Oxygen_Mix_172.pdf |title=Heliox data sheet |author=BOC Medical] Heliox has also found utility in the weaning of patients off mechanical ventilation, and in the nebulization of inhalable drugs, particularly for the elderly.cite journal |author=Lee DL, Hsu CW, Lee H, Chang HW, Huang YC |title=Beneficial effects of albuterol therapy driven by heliox versus by oxygen in severe asthma exacerbation |journal=Acad Emerg Med |volume=12 |issue=9 |pages=820–7 |year=2005 |month=September |pmid=16141015 |doi=10.1197/j.aem.2005.04.020 |url=http://www.anaesthesiauk.com/article.aspx?articleid=100375 |accessdate=2008-07-08] Research has also indicated advantages in using helium/oxygen mixtures in delivery of anaesthesia.cite journal |author=Buczkowski PW, Fombon FN, Russell WC, Thompson JP |title=Effects of helium on high frequency jet ventilation in model of airway stenosis |journal=Br J Anaesth |volume=95 |issue=5 |pages=701–5 |year=2005 |month=November |pmid=16143576 |doi=10.1093/bja/aei229 |url=http://bja.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=16143576 |accessdate=2008-07-08]

Diving uses

Owing to the expense of helium cite web |url=http://www.fillexpress.com/fills.shtml#prices |title=Example pricing for filling cylinders |accessdate=2008-01-10] , heliox is most likely to be used in deep commercial diving although it is sometimes used by diving enthusiasts using gas-conserving rebreathers.

The proportion of oxygen in a diving mix depends on the maximum depth of the dive plan but is often hypoxic and typically 10%. Each mix is bespoke and is created using gas blending techniques, which often involve the use of booster pumps to achieve typical diving cylinder pressures of convert|200|bar|psi|abbr=on|lk=on from lower pressure banks of oxygen and helium cylinders.

Because sound travels faster in Heliox than in air, voice formants are raised, making divers' speech very high-pitched and hard to understand to people not used to it. [cite journal |author=Ackerman MJ, Maitland G |title=Calculation of the relative speed of sound in a gas mixture |journal=Undersea Biomed Res |volume=2 |issue=4 |pages=305–10 |year=1975 |month=December |pmid=1226588 |doi= |url=http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/2738 |accessdate=2008-07-08]

Trimix is a close rival and slightly less expensive, deep diving, alternative to Heliox.cite journal |author=Stone, WC |year=1992 |title=The case for heliox: a matter of narcosis and economics. |journal=AquaCorps |volume=3 |issue=1 |pages=11-16 ] Trimix is often used in commercial diving and in technical diving.

ee also

*Argox (scuba)
*Enriched Air Nitrox


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  • Heliox — Héliox L héliox est un mélange gazeux d hélium et d oxygène utilisé en médecine ainsi que pour la plongée sous marine en eaux profondes, par exemple off shore. Utilisation en plongée L air comprimé est un mélange d oxygène (21 %) et d azote… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • héliox — [eljɔks] n. m. ÉTYM. 1971; de héli(um), et ox(ygène). ❖ ♦ Sc. Mélange hélium oxygène utilisé en plongée sous marine. || « (Les chercheurs) commencèrent par remplacer l air comprimé par un mélange respiratoire synthétique, dans lequel l hélium se… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Heliox — El Heliox es un compuesto gaseoso respirable de helio (He) y oxígeno (O2). El Heliox se ha utilizado en medicina desde los años 30, y aunque, inicialmente la comunidad médica adoptó su uso para aliviar los síntomas de la obstrucción de las vías… …   Wikipedia Español

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  • heliox — noun A gas, a mixture of helium and oxygen used in medicine and in diving. See Also: heliair, nitrox …   Wiktionary

  • Heliox — helium and oxygen * * * he·li·ox (heґle oks) a low density mixture of helium and oxygen that reduces resistance to flow within the airways, used in the treatment of asthma, bronchiolitis, and other conditions characterized by increased airway… …   Medical dictionary

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