Selected topics: Toxicology| Volume 41, ISSUE 4, P378-380, October 2011

Severe Myeloneuropathy from Acute High-Dose Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Abuse


      Background: Myeloneuropathy from chronic exposure to nitrous oxide has been described. Nitrous oxide irreversibly alters B12 activation, causing signs and symptoms of B12 deficiency. Objectives: We describe a case of myeloneuropathy secondary to acute use of high-dose nitrous oxide. Case Report: A 24-year-old man presented to the Emergency Department complaining of numbness and tingling of his hands and feet, as well as worsening clumsiness and gait disturbances after escalating use of nitrous oxide in the prior 2 weeks. He was found to have dysmetria, poor proprioception, decreased sensation to vibration and light touch over his extremities, and a mildly positive Romberg sign. Laboratory test values revealed a normal B12 level but increased methylmalonic acid and homocysteine levels. The patient was admitted to the hospital and started on a course of B12 injections. He was discharged after 3 days with daily B12 supplementation. Conclusions: This case demonstrates myeloneuropathic changes secondary to acute high-dose nitrous oxide exposure.


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