structural formula for nitroglycerin:

O
/
O -- N
\
H O
\ /
C
/ \ H
H \ /
C O
H / \ //
\ / O -- N
C \
/ \ O
H O
/
O -- N
\\
O

Besides being an explosive, nitroglycerin is also used medically for its ability to release nitrous oxide derivatives to the circulation as either a sublingual tablet or a transdermal patch for the treatment of angina pain and biliary colic (as ophie mentioned).

Formula: C3H5N3O9
Melting Point: 13 Degrees (Celsius)
Boiling Point: 218 Degrees (Celsius)
Molecular Weight: 227.11g

Also known as: Glyceryl Trinitrate, Glycerin Nitrate

Nictoglycerin is an oily, colorless liquid with a sweet, burning taste. Don't try this at home. Tasting it can produce a really REALLY bad headache, or even acute poisoing. Nitroglycerin is derived from glycerol, a common biological molecule.

Nitroglycerin tablets are a vasodilator-type treatment, usually prescribed to ease pain in the chest area. Patients are usually instructed to take a single tablet and wait four to five minutes. If the chest pain still lingers, patients are instructed to take another tablet. If the pain is still present after another four to five minutes, the patient is instructed to take a third tablet. If, after the third tablet, the chest pain doesn't subside, they should call emergency services. Right away.

Nitroglycerin is also used to construct explosives. Being tremendously unstable (even the slightest friction, or impact can detonate it), it has been found to make a suitable ingredient in many types of explosives. Nitroglycerin is remarkably unstable due to its high rate of decomposition. When nitroglycerin detonates, a high-speed shock is sent through the substance. All of the molecules are destroyed near simultaneously. Nitro has an adavntage over other explosives, as no solid forms of carbon are produced when it is detonated. (Solid carbon normally manifests itself as smoke.) Therefore, it is usually used to create "smokeless" powders.

The obvious problem of Nitro's instability was solved in 1864 by Alfred Nobel. (Yes, THAT Nobel.) Mixing nitroglycerin with a type of clay called kieselguhr, creates a pasty compound, which could then be shaped into rods. In 1867 this material was patented under the name "dynamite".


This node is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor and/or pyrotechnics specialist. Seek their advice before trying anything with nitroglycerin.

From the January 1994 issue of Medical Sciences Bulletin , published by Pharmaceutical Information Associates, Ltd.


Nitroglycerin for Biliary Colic

Nitric oxide is a smooth-muscle relaxant with general effects on vascular, bronchial, and biliary smooth muscle. Recently Hassel described the use of a nitric oxide donor -- nitroglycerin -- in three patients with biliary colic. All three patients had ultrasonography-confirmed gallbladder stones, and all three had severe biliary colic that showed a striking response to nitroglycerin. The first patient, a 25-year-old woman, experienced acute, severe pain in the right hypochondrium, radiating to the right scapula and accompanied by vomiting and restlessness. Palpation caused a sharp pain that was worse on deep inspiration (Murphy's sign). A sublingual nitroglycerin tablet (0.5 mg) relieved the pain within 20 seconds. When the pain returned 2 hours later, a 20Êmg oral isosorbide dinitrate tablet kept the patient free of pain for at least 12 hours.

The second patient was a 46-year-old man who had acute, severe pain in the right hypochondrium radiating to the back and accompanied by nausea and restlessness. Palpation caused the characteristic pain; Murphy's sign was present. Nitroglycerin 0.4 mg sublingually (via spray) relieved the pain within 30 seconds. The pain gradually recurred after 20 minutes. Another dose of nitroglycerin reduced the pain to a weak ache. The third patient, a 70-year-old man, had frequent attacks of biliary colic that appeared within 15 minutes of a meal and lasted 4 to 6 hours. He had a positive cholecystogram and had undergone papillotomy, but stones remained in the gallbladder. Colecystectomywas contraindicated because the patient had severe bronchial asthma and obesity. Pain responded moderately to oral opioids. A sublingual 0.5 mg nitroglycerin tablet relieved the pain completely within 60 seconds, and the effect lasted for at least 12 hours.

In these patients, NG proved to be an effective and rapidly acting agent for biliary colic, relaxing biliary smooth muscle and reducing spasms. Hassel concluded, "Nitroglycerin may be a useful alternative to analgesic treatment in the acute situation and in the inoperable patient."



A patient's perspective: I am 24, and to have been prescribed nitroglycerin came as a shock. it's for old people. For people having heart attacks. I suffered through several attacks before I finally decided to give it a try when I suffered an attack at work. One dose reduced the pain, and five minutes after the first, a second dose eliminated the pain entirely.

What does this mean for me? I don't know. I usually have attacks only at night, and I am in so much pain and and so groggy and confused that I am unlikely take any action other than curling into a ball. The nitroglycerin makes me feel a bit hyper and very hot, and so I doubt my ability to get back to sleep after taking a dose (and one of my primary concerns is the continual lack of sleep caused by the attacks).

I don't know how much I am like the test cases. MRCP, MRI, and sonogram show no stone or stricture in the bile duct (and thus the doc says he assumes spasm of the sphinter or sludge in the common bile duct). I was prescribed nitroglycerin to see if it helped attacks until I could have an ERCP procedure done. It works well on daytime attacks, but at night I am not aware enough of my surroundings to actually take it. Overall, though, I would recommend that anyone suffering acute attacks of biliary colic ask their doctor about nitroglycerin, the effects are immediate.

Ni`tro*glyc"er*in (?), n. [Nitro- + glycerinn.] Chem.

A liquid appearing like a heavy oil, colorless or yellowish, and consisting of a mixture of several glycerin salts of nitric acid, and hence more properly called glycerin nitrate. It is made by the action of nitric acid on glycerin in the presence of sulphuric acid. It is extremely unstable and terribly explosive. A very dilute solution is used in medicine as a neurotic under the name of glonion.

[Written also nitroglycerine.]

⇒ A great number of explosive compounds have been produced by mixing nitroglycerin with different substances; as, dynamite, or giant powder, nitroglycerin mixed with siliceous earth; lithofracteur, nitroglycerin with gunpowder, or with sawdust and nitrate of sodium or barium; Colonia powder, gunpowder with nitroglycerin; dualin, nitroglycerin with sawdust, or with sawdust and nitrate of potassium and some other substances; lignose, wood fiber and nitroglycerin.

 

© Webster 1913.

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