The History and Physics of Heliox

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Since the discovery of helium in 1868, it has found numerous applications in industry and medicine. Its low density makes helium potentially valuable in respiratory care applications, to reduce work of breathing, improve distribution of ventilation, reduce minute volume requirement, and improve aerosol delivery. This review includes a brief history of the use of heliox (a mixture of helium and oxygen) and addresses issues related to the physics of gas flow when heliox is used. Specifically covered are the Hagen-Poiseuille equation, laminar versus turbulent flow, the Reynolds number, orifice flow, Bernoulli's principle, Graham's law, wave speed, and thermal conductivity.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Respiratory Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, Ellison 401, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston MA 02114;, Email: 2: Nektar Therapeutics, Mountain View, California 3: Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 4: Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Kosair Children's Hospital, Louisville, Kentucky 5: Asthma Center, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio 6: Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, Baltimore, Maryland

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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