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Oxygen was known to be the only element that supports respiration as early as 1800 and was first used in the medical field in 1810. However, it took 150 years for the gas be used throughout medicine. In the early to mid 20th century, oxygen therapy became rational and scientific. Today, modern medicine couldn't be practised without support the oxygen provides. Oxygen is essential for cell metabolism and life. It is important to ensure adequate tissue oxygenation as this is essential for normal physiological function. Oxygen assists in reversing hypoxia by raising the concentration of inspired oxygen. 

This can only help the patient if the oxygen is able to be effectively transferred to the tissues and if ventilations are adequate. If the ventilation given with supplementary oxygen is not adequate, the reversal of hypoxia may not be possible. There are many uses of medical oxygen and some of these uses are to provide the basis of virtually all modern anaesthetic techniques, to restore tissue oxygen tension by improving option availability in a wide range of conditions such as COPD, cyanosis shock, severe hemorrhage, carbon monoxide poisoning, major trauma, cardiac or respiratory arrest and resuscitation, to provide life support for artificially ventilated patients, to reduce incidents of surgical wound infections and finally, to aid cardiovascular stability.