Improving drug delivery from medical nebulizers: the effects of increased nebulizer flow rates and reservoirs

J Aerosol Med. 2002 Fall;15(3):271-82. doi: 10.1089/089426802760292618.


Drug delivery from jet nebulizers can be considered in terms of the dose inhaled and the respirability of that dose. It is proposed that dose respirability and dose per breath can be controlled through specification of the driving gas flowrate, and that the dose inhaled per breath can also be increased through the use of nebulizer reservoirs. When a Hudson Micromist nebulizer was used and assessments of respirability were made utilizing phase Doppler interferometry, it was noted that the portion of the spray mass in droplet sizes of <or=5 microm (general respirability) and in droplet sizes of <or=3 microm (deep lung respirability) increased linearly with gas flowrate for both tank air and helium-oxygen (70/30). Drug mass in the 2-6 microm range (tracheobronchial respirability) peaked at air flowrates of 8-10 LPM and decreased slightly for higher flowrates. Two portable compressors provided respirabilities similar to tank air at the same flowrates. Changing the nebulizer flowrate did not affect the ratio of the inhaled dose to the dose expelled by exhalation when a typical breathing pattern was simulated. A version of the Micromist with an attached reservoir (the Hudson AeroTee) provided a higher dose per breath to the patient and a higher total dose for the same treatment time by conserving the aerosol generated during exhalation. The inhaled dose increased approximately 28% when compared to a standard Micromist, despite significant deposition in the reservoir bag. Nebulizer reservoirs could be used to attain higher doses or to more efficiently utilize expensive medications.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Particle Size


  • Aerosols