Xenon is an inert gas that is nonflammable and nonexplosive. The outer shell of xenon is complete thus it is not a highly reactive compound neither seeking, nor donating electrons to biological molecules. Despite its "inert" status, xenon has been shown to interact with biological molecules by forming an induced dipole in the presence of a cationic site.34 An induced dipole could also result from an interaction with another fleeting dipole formed at the proposed binding site to form an induced dipole-induced dipole or London dispersion force.35 The mechanism of xenon anesthesia and the site of action are still unknown.
The low blood:gas partition coefficient (0.12) leads to quick onset and recovery, but the potency is low with an MAC of 71%. Xenon gas is produced in low quantities and presently is expensive to obtain. The low incidence of reported side effects, lack of environmental concerns (it will not contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer), and absence of metabolites makes xenon an interesting anesthetic for development.36,37 Xenon is being tested in Japan and Europe presently and if a closed system anesthetic circulator is developed that can recapture the exhaled xenon the fiscal concerns may lesson. Patents have been awarded in the United States for xenon anesthetic equipment.
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