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Breathing oxygen through intestines

Date: 25 May 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


A new medical procedure has been studied under which individuals with respiratory illness can be made to breathe oxygen through their intestines.



In severe respiratory infection such as Covid-19, the lungs fail to perform their functions, leading to death of patients. It is also suitable in case ventilators are not available.



  • This method of oxygen supply is known as Enteral Ventilation via Anus (EVA) and individuals will be supplied oxygen through their anus.

  • Studies have shown that intestines have the ability to absorb oxygen. This is because of large number of blood vessels present in the area.

  • These blood vessels are meant to absorb digested food but they can also absorb oxygen. This phenomenon was observed in fish called loach.

  • The loaches use their gills to absorb oxygen from water. They can also come on the surface to breathe oxygen. They do not have lungs to absorb but intestines do the job for them.

  • The similar technique of breathing by gut is used by spiders and cat fish when the amount of oxygen in its surroundings dips.


The study

  • The researchers used the technique on mice and pigs to understand the method of anal breathing.

  • Mice on anaesthesia and oxygen deprivation survived for longer periods when oxygen was administered through the anus.

  • To provide direct access between oxygen and intestinal wall, the layer of mucus membrane near mammalian rectum had to be removed.

  • To avoid removal of rectal lining, researchers have used perfluorocarbons that can absorb large amounts of oxygen and later can be administered in form of enemas.


Human trials

Patients suffering from breathing difficulties are treated with tracheal intubation. Perfluorocarbon enemas could prove to be less traumatic and provide greater efficiency.

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