Plastic bottles as spacers for a pressurized metered-dose inhaler: in vitro characteristics

West Indian Med J. 2001 Sep;50(3):189-93.


Homemade spacer devices are commonly used by children with asthma to improve aerosol deposition from pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDI); however, the efficacy and efficiency of these devices are not fully characterized. We determined the quality of fine particle fraction (< 4.7 microns) and ultrafine particle fraction (< 3.3 microns) of three bottles (from 280 ml to 500 ml) commonly used as spacers in Trinidad and Tobago and compared their performance to the commercially available valved holding chamber (OpT) and pMDI. These data were obtained in vitro using a cascade impactor. All 3 bottles and the OpT were similar (p > 0.05) in reducing the amount of albuterol emitted as large particles (> 4.7 microns) to less than 10 micrograms. The different sized bottles (from 280 ml to 500 ml) produced identical quantities of albuterol in the fine particle and ultrafine particle ranges (p > 0.05). All of the sample bottle spacers emitted a higher amount (p < 0.002) of fine and ultrafine particles than the OpT and pMDI alone. The OpT resulted in a significantly higher fraction of fine particles (p < 0.05) and a greater quantity of drug (p < 0.05) in the ultrafine range as compared to the MDI only. The sizes of particles obtained from the bottle spacers are those that have a high probability of reaching the lower airway; however, the clinical relevance of these findings remains to be determined.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / standards*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers / standards*
  • Particle Size
  • Plastics
  • Trinidad and Tobago


  • Plastics