Article Author:
Tushar Bajaj
Article Editor:
Judith Borger
4/10/2019 10:45:12 AM
PubMed Link:


Xenon is an element with the symbol Xe. The atomic number is 54. The chemical element Xe is a colorless, odorless, dense, noble gas found in the earth’s atmosphere in trace amounts. The role of the element in medical literature is as a radioactive diagnostic agent indicated for cerebral flow assessment, pulmonary function evaluation, and lung imaging.

Xenon is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. The mechanism of action of Xe-133 gas is that it passes through cell membranes and freely exchanges between blood and tissue. It enters the alveolar wall and the pulmonary venous circulation via the capillaries. The gas entering the circulation from one single breath returns to the lungs and gets exhaled following a single pass through the peripheral circulation. In the concentrations used for diagnostic purposes, the drug is physiologically inactive. The drug is administered by inhalation from spirometers or closed respirator systems to ensure that the delivery system is leak proof. The gas should not stand in respirator containers or tubing. The dosing should be measured by a radioactivity calibration system promptly before administration. Waterproof gloves and radiation shielding are recommended handling precautions.

Issues of Concern

As per the manufacturer’s labeling, there are no adverse reactions or contraindications to the use of Xe-133 gas. There are none known metabolism effects. There are no known significant drug-drug interactions. The drug is listed as pregnancy risk factor C in which animal reproduction studies have demonstrated an adverse effect on the fetus; however there are no adequate and well-controlled trials in humans, but the potential benefits may indicate the use of the drug in pregnant women in spite of potential risks. The Xe-133 gas excretion in breast milk is not known; however, the manufacturer does recommend the substitution of formula feedings due to the potential for adverse reactions to breastfeeding infants.

Clinical Significance

Xenon, Xe-133 gas, is capable of inducing anesthesia, establishing neuroprotection, and can serve as a contrast agent in nuclear medicine and modern laser technology. Xenon has had promising results with neurobehavioral dysfunction caused by brain insult,[1], cardiac arrest induced cerebral ischemia,[2] and even against neonatal hypoxia-ischemia.[3] Xenon has also found use in nuclear medicine with computed tomography as well as single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). The gas can be useful for the measurement of cerebral blood flow, whole-brain scans, and ventilation studies of the lungs. Also, there have been studies with the gas for pathologies including dementia, epilepsy, Alzheimer disease, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.[4][5][6][7]


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