Science translational medicine

Producing nitric oxide by pulsed electrical discharge in air for portable inhalation therapy.

PMID 26136478


Inhalation of nitric oxide (NO) produces selective pulmonary vasodilation and is an effective therapy for treating pulmonary hypertension in adults and children. In the United States, the average cost of 5 days of inhaled NO for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is about $14,000. NO therapy involves gas cylinders and distribution, a complex delivery device, gas monitoring and calibration equipment, and a trained respiratory therapy staff. The objective of this study was to develop a lightweight, portable device to serve as a simple and economical method of producing pure NO from air for bedside or portable use. Two NO generators were designed and tested: an offline NO generator and an inline NO generator placed directly within the inspiratory line. Both generators use pulsed electrical discharges to produce therapeutic range NO (5 to 80 parts per million) at gas flow rates of 0.5 to 5 liters/min. NO was produced from air, as well as gas mixtures containing up to 90% O2 and 10% N2. Potentially toxic gases produced in the plasma, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3), were removed using a calcium hydroxide scavenger. An iridium spark electrode produced the lowest ratio of NO2/NO. In lambs with acute pulmonary hypertension, breathing electrically generated NO produced pulmonary vasodilation and reduced pulmonary arterial pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance index. In conclusion, electrical plasma NO generation produces therapeutic levels of NO from air. After scavenging to remove NO2 and O3 and filtration to remove particles, electrically produced NO can provide safe and effective treatment of pulmonary hypertension.

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