The Effects of Low Level Hyperbaric Treatment on Acute Ethanol Intoxication

  • Ronald L. Alkana
  • Richard D. Malcolm
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 126)


The present study investigated the effect of low-level hyperbaric environments on ethanol anesthesia in mice. Drug naive male C57 B1/6j mice were injected i.p. with 3.2 g/kg ethanol (16% w/v). Upon loss of their righting reflex, animals were placed in a hyperbaric chamber and the atmospheric pressure was adjusted to 1, 2 or 4 atmospheres absolute (ATA) with air, 1, 2, 4 or 6 ATA with 100% oxygen or 1, 2, 4 or 6 ATA with a 20% oxygen-80% helium mixture. Tail-vein blood samples were taken upon return of the righting reflex and analyzed for ethanol concentration by gas chromatography.

Hyperbaric treatment with 100% oxygen or oxygen-helium significantly reduced sleep-time and increased wake-up blood ethanol concentrations. T-tests demonstrated a significant reduction at 4 and 6 ATA with 100% oxygen. Blood ethanol concentrations in the 6 ATA 100% oxygen group were significantly higher at wake-up than in the 1 ATA air controls. Hyperbaric treatment with 6 ATA of 20% oxygen-80% helium reduced sleep-time by over 60% as compared to controls at 1 ATA air. Treatment with 1 or 2 ATA 100% oxygen, 1, 2 or 4 ATA 20% oxygen-80% helium or 2 or 4 ATA air did not significantly change sleep-time nor blood ethanol concentrations when compared to 1 ATA air controls. These findings indicate that low-level hyperbaric environments antagonize ethanol narcosis. The antagonism does not appear to involve enhanced ethanol elimination.


High Hydrostatic Pressure Blood Ethanol Concentration Hyperbaric Chamber Helium Mixture Pressure Reversal 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald L. Alkana
    • 1
  • Richard D. Malcolm
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PharmacyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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