A simple in vitro method for the evaluation of an ultrasonic nebulizer for drug delivery to intubated, ventilated patients and the effect of nebulizer and ventilator settings on the uptake of fluid from the nebulizer chamber

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 1999 Jul;16(7):479-84. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2346.1999.00507.x.


Little is known about the performance of ultrasonic nebulizers during different ventilation patterns when these nebulizers are used to deliver drugs to intubated, ventilated patients. A method that enables the performance of an ultrasonic nebulizer to be evaluated is described. We used an in vitro model to examine the performance of the DeVilbiss Ultra-Neb 2000 ultrasonic nebulizer under positive pressure ventilation. Performance was measured at different rates of nebulization and under changing conditions of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), inspiratory flow rate, inspiratory time and minute volume. The volume of saline nebulized was unchanged by variations in positive end expiratory pressure from 0 to 5 cm to 10 cm H2O, in minute ventilation and in inspiratory flow rate. An increase in the inspiratory time resulted in an increase in the volume of saline nebulized and this volume was greater as the power setting of the nebulizer was increased. We conclude that ultrasonic nebulizers may be affected by different patterns of ventilation and that this simple in vitro assessment of nebulizer function in an intensive care setting may be of value prior to nebulizer use.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Equipment Design
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Inhalation / physiology
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / instrumentation
  • Maximal Voluntary Ventilation
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration* / instrumentation
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration* / methods
  • Pressure
  • Pulmonary Ventilation / physiology
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonics*


  • Aerosols
  • Sodium Chloride