Spacer devices for metered dose inhalers

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2004;43(6):349-60. doi: 10.2165/00003088-200443060-00001.


Spacer devices are attachments to the mouthpieces of pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs), and range from tube spacers with a volume of <50 mL to holding chambers with a volume of 750 mL. Compared with a pMDI alone, spacers minimise coordination difficulties, reduce oropharyngeal deposition and often increase lung deposition. Spacers may not improve the clinical effect in patients able to use a pMDI properly, but may allow maintenance dosages of bronchodilators and corticosteroids to be reduced. Correct use of spacer devices is important, especially achieving control over electrostatic charge accumulation on the walls of plastic devices. In patients with severe acute asthma or severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a pMDI plus large volume spacer may be a viable alternative to a nebuliser for delivering large bronchodilator doses. Although the addition of a spacer to every pMDI would not be justified, the use of large volume spacers has been recommended for any inhaled asthma drug in young children, and as a means of reducing systemic bioavailability of inhaled corticosteroids in adults and children alike.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Aerosols
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Aerosols
  • Bronchodilator Agents