How Liquid Nitrogen is Used in the Medical Industry – The medical industry continues to advance rapidly with increased technological changes. As a result of these innovations, the use of liquid nitrogen, often annotated as ln2, continues to skyrocket in the healthcare sector.
To produce this coolant, nitrogen gas is cooled to a boiling point of -196 degrees Celsius, after which individuals and entities can utilize it for various purposes. Upon cooling, it condenses into a frosty liquid that can freeze anything it comes in contact with, including the skin. Medical professionals have made several
advancements in healthcare delivery owing to this special trait.
Here are a few applications of liquid nitrogen in medicine.
Medical practitioners use liquid nitrogen in biotechnological practices such as selective animal breeding and IVF procedures to preserve gametes, embryos, microorganisms and other cell tissues. The coolant assists in maintaining the cellular functionalities and viabilities of the biological samples after thawing.
Specialists conventionally accomplish this by using controlled-rate freezers that deliver liquid nitrogen into a closed chamber that stores the specimens in cryovials for short or long-term purposes. The process requires close monitoring to reduce the risk of ice crystals forming and dehydration of the living cells.
Liquid nitrogen is also used in hospital procedures for treating patients with various dermatological conditions like warts, verrucas, skin tags and benign skin growths. During the treatment, medics expose the affected skin areas to liquid nitrogen and eventually, after some time lapses, it discolours and falls off. The
process is usually a painless experience for most patients, and it takes a short time, but this depends on the size of the treatment area.
The treatment procedure allows practitioners to provide high-quality services to their clients through non-invasive alternatives. Additionally, it has minimal side effects, and the aftercare process is quite manageable. Patients should expect the treated skin and the area around it to be sore after treatment, although the sensitivity usually goes away in 2 to 4 weeks.
Another area professionals in the medical industry can use the coolant is in the superconductive systems of MRI machines that involve a double cooling system which uses liquid nitrogen as a cryogenic liquid in the first thermos container and liquid helium in the second. The system works by using the two liquid gases as
coolants for the conductors, maintaining them at a temperature of approximately 4.2 Kelvin.
These liquid gas coolants ensure optimal asset performance and longevity by managing the resulting heat deposition from the radio frequency magnets.
Due to its high liquid-to-gas expansion ratio, medics should always be careful when handling liquid nitrogen. It is advisable to wear insulating gloves and appropriate safety gear when dealing with the coolant to reduce the chances of experiencing severe burns from frostbite and asphyxiation from inhaling it.
Additionally, cryopreservation is a high-risk process that requires careful handling to minimize incidences such as the loss of specimens during transport and storage. Because of this, modern age cryostats or dewars are now being developed with numerous content-monitoring functionalities to help mitigate
such expensive risks.