Comparison of hydrophobic heat and moisture exchangers with heated humidifier during prolonged mechanical ventilation

Intensive Care Med. 1992;18(2):97-100. doi: 10.1007/BF01705040.


Inspired gases must be warmed and humidified during mechanical ventilation. In a prospective randomized study we compared the performance of a heated humidifier (HH) (Draegger Aquaport) and a heat and moisture exchanger (HME) (Pall Filter BB 2215). A total of 116 patients requiring mechanical ventilation (Servo 900 C Siemens) were enrolled into the study and were randomly assigned to 2 groups. Patients in group I were ventilated with a traditional breathing circuit with HH and patients in group II using a simplified circuit with HME. Pre-existing and hospital acquired atelectasis and pneumonia, occurrence of endotracheal tube (ET) occlusion and ventilatory parameters (respiratory rate, tidal volume) were studied. No statistical difference was found between groups for each parameter except the greater frequency of ET occlusions in the II group (0/61 vs 9/55) (p = 0.0008). Pall Filter (PF), a hydrophobic filter, humidifies the dry gases from the condensed water which is put down on the HME surfaces during cooling of saturated expired gases. This purely physical property is linked to the magnitude of the thermic gradient between the expired gases and the ambiant temperature. Performance impairment of PF in our study might be due to high ambiant temperature in the intensive care unit (usually around 28 degrees C) which reduces thermic gradient and water exchanges. We conclude that efficiency of PF may be weak in some conditions of ambiant temperature.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / etiology
  • Equipment Failure / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, University
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Humidity / standards*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / etiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / complications
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / mortality
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Temperature
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventilator Weaning / statistics & numerical data
  • Ventilators, Mechanical / standards*