Safety, hemodynamic effects and detection of acute xenon inhalation: Rationale for banning xenon from sport

Safety, hemodynamic effects and detection of acute xenon inhalation : Rationale for banning xenon from sport / Justin Stevan Lawley, Hannes Gatterer, Katrin A. Dias, Erin J. Howden, Satyam Sarma, William K. Cornwell 3rd, Christopher M. Hearon Jr., Mitchel Samels, Braden Everding, Max Hendrix, Thomas Piper, Mario Thevis, Benjamin D. Levine. - (Journal of applied physiology (2019) 15 August)

  • PMID: 31414955.
  • DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00290.2019


This study aimed to quantify the sedative effects, detection rates and cardiovascular responses to xenon.

On three occasions, participants breathed xenon (FiXe 30%, for 20 min; FiXe 50% for 5 min; FiXe 70% for 2 min) in a non-blinded design. Sedation was monitored by a board certified anesthesiologist. During 70% xenon, participants were also verbally instructed to operate a manual value with time to task failure being recorded. Beat-by-beat hemodynamics were measured continuously by ECG, photoplethysmography and transcranial Doppler. Over 48 hours post administration, xenon was measured in blood and urine by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Xenon caused variable levels of sedation and restlessness. Task failure of the self-operating value occurred at 60 - 90 seconds in most individuals. Over the first minute, 50 and 70% xenon caused a substantial reduction in total peripheral resistance (P<0.05). All dosages caused an increase in cardiac output (P<0.05). By the end of xenon inhalation, slight hypertension was observed after all three doses (P<0.05) with an increase in middle cerebral artery velocity (P<0.05). Xenon was consistently detected, albeit in trace amounts, up to 3 hours post all three doses of xenon inhalation in blood and urine with variable results thereafter.

Xenon inhalation caused sedation incompatible with self-operation of a breathing apparatus, thus causing a potential life threatening condition in the absence of an anesthesiologist. Yet, xenon can only be reliably detected in blood and urine up to 3 hours post acute dosing.

Original document


Research / Study
15 August 2019
Cornwell, William K. 3rd
Dias, Katrin A.
Everding, Braden
Gatterer, Hannes
Hearon, Christopher M. Jr.
Hendrix, Max
Howden, Erin J.
Lawley, Justin Stevan
Levine, Benjamin D.
Piper, Thomas
Samels, Mitchel
Sarma, Satyam
Thevis, Mario
United States of America
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Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute
Colorado State University (CSU)
Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck - University of Innsbruck
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW)
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1 August 2019
Date of last modification
9 December 2021
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