Effect of helium-oxygen on delivery of albuterol in a pediatric, volume-cycled, ventilated lung model

Pharmacotherapy. 1999 Feb;19(2):143-9. doi: 10.1592/phco.


Pulmonary delivery of inhaled bronchodilators in mechanically ventilated patients is inefficient whether administered by metered-dose inhaler (MDI) or small-volume nebulizer. One of the factors that causes inefficient aerosol delivery is turbulent gas. Heliox (He:O2) is a blend of helium and oxygen that is less dense than air, making turbulent flow less likely. We assessed the effect of 70% He:O2 on albuterol delivery in a mechanically ventilated pediatric lung model. Albuterol was administered by MDI with spacer, collected on a filter proximal to a test lung, and measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Mean amount and percentage albuterol delivered were significantly (p<0.05) greater for 70% He:O2 (395+/-29 microg, 20+/-3.2%) than for 70% nitrogen:30% oxygen (241+/-29 microg,12+/-1.7%). Thus 70% He:O2 can increase the amount of albuterol delivered at the end of the endotracheal tube, suggesting a potential role for it in the care of critically ill ventilated patients.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Helium*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lung*
  • Models, Structural
  • Oxygen*
  • Respiration, Artificial*


  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Helium
  • Albuterol
  • Oxygen