Relative analgesia is another term for conscious sedation with nitrous oxide/oxygen. Other terms for relative analgesia are inhalation sedation and minimal sedation. The term, relative analgesia has been used for many years and was part of the title of a classical textbook on the subject by H Lasagna ‘Relative analgesia in dental practice: inhalation analgesia with nitrous oxide’ Relative analgesia. In the book, Lasagna describes the technique of using mixtures of nitrous oxide/oxygen to produce a state in which the patient is relaxed, free of anxiety and fully conscious. His book was written mainly for dentists, but he does not exclude the possibility that the technique can be used by physicians. At the time Lasagna’s book appeared the technique had not been extended to the treatment of acute substance abuse withdrawal states from substances of abuse. The inventers of the technique were from South Africa (Frederick J Lichtigfeld and Mark A Gillman) who first published on the idea in 1980 and followed this up with numerous articles on the subject, which were published in the international medical literature. One of the major problems of getting the idea of using relative analgesia more widely used in the medical world is that most physicians regard the combination of nitrous oxide with oxygen as an anaesthetic agent. They very rarely know that a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen can be used with the patient fully conscious while being so relaxed, that they are happy to have practically any minor surgical procedure undertaken on them. Apart from pain control in child-birth, nitrous oxide at does consistent with relative analgesia is seldom used for medical purposes. This in spite of the fact that a a Polish doctor working in Russia in the 1880’s had shown that relative analgesia can be useful for treating medical conditions such as chest pain from heart attacks and asthma. In order to increase the use of relative analgesia or minimal sedation or conscious sedation with nitrous oxide/oxygen in medical practice, Gillman and Lichtigfeld introduced the term psychotropic analgesic nitrous oxide (PAN). The term PAN was suggested to distinguish the non-anaesthetic psychotropic actions of nitrous oxide from those much higher doses of nitrous oxide used for anaesthesia.
Click here for training program on nitrous oxide.