Background: Pressurized metered-dose inhalers with valved holding chambers and masks are commonly used for aerosol delivery in children. Drug delivery can decrease when the dead-space volume (DSV) of the valved holding chamber is increased, but there are no published data evaluating force-dependent DSV among different masks.
Methods: Seven masks were studied. Masks were sealed at the valved holding chamber end and filled with water to measure mask volume. To measure mask DSV we used a mannequin of 2-year-old-size face and we applied the mask with forces of 1.5, 3.5, and 7 pounds. Mask seal was determined by direct observation. Intra-brand analysis was done via analysis of variance.
Results: At 3.5 pounds of force, the DSV ranged from 29 mL to 100 mL, with 3 masks having DSV of < 50 mL. The remaining masks all had DSV > 60 mL. At 3.5 pounds of force, DSV percent of mask volume ranged from 33.7% (Aerochamber, p < 0.01 compared with other masks) to 100% (Pocket Chamber). DSV decreased with increasing force with most of the masks, and the slope of this line was inversely proportional to mask flexibility. Mask fit was 100% at 1.5 pounds of force only with the Aerochamber and Optichamber. Mask fit was poorest with the Vortex, Pocket Chamber, and BreatheRite masks.
Conclusion: Rigid masks with large DSV might not be not suitable for use in children, especially if discomfort from the stiff mask makes its use less acceptable to the child.