Bench testing of nebulizers: a comparison of three methods

J Aerosol Med. 1999 Summer;12(2):59-66. doi: 10.1089/jam.1999.12.59.


Although nebulizers can vary widely in performance, there is no uniformly accepted method for bench testing these devices. In the present study, we compared three bench methods of measuring the performance of three commercial jet nebulizers (Whisper Jet [WJ; Marquest Medical, Englewood, CO], Sidestream [SS; Marquest Medical], and Vixone [VO; Westmed, Tucson, AZ] to assess the impact of the method of testing on reported nebulizer performance. Each nebulizer was charged with 3 mL of albuterol mixed with a radiotracer (technetium [99mTc]), and the radioactivity captured on a paper filter was expressed as a percentage of the nebulizer charge (% delivered). The nebulizers were tested with and without duplication of spontaneous respiration by a piston pump (spontaneous respiration and standing cloud methods, respectively). The nebulizers were also tested using a model of mechanical ventilation (mechanical ventilation method). For all three devices, the addition of the standardized breathing pattern significantly reduced the % delivered with all three nebulizers compared with the standing cloud method. For the standing cloud method, the presence of the T-piece/mouth-piece significantly reduced the % delivered with the WJ but not with the other two devices. The mechanical ventilation method had the lowest % delivered for all three devices. The magnitude of the differences between nebulizers varied with duration of treatment. The findings of this study emphasize the importance of bench testing that duplicates intended clinical usage, because significant differences in nebulizer performance may be manifested under certain clinical conditions but not under others.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Equipment Design
  • Filtration
  • Models, Structural
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Particle Size
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Technetium


  • Aerosols
  • Bronchodilator Agents
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Technetium
  • Albuterol