Inhaled drugs are frequently given to infants and young children with a pressurized metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) attached to a valved-holding chamber (VHC) with face mask. In young children and infants who cannot breathe through a mouthpiece, the face mask serves as the interface between the patient and the VHC. Although the mask interface is one of the most important factors determining the dose of medication delivered from the VHC to the nose and mouth in these patients, its optimal characteristics are not well known. Recent studies clearly identify several face mask factors that determine the success or failure of drug delivery with these devices. This review summarizes the most important features of an optimal mask design such as: face seal/leak, volume of dead space, contour, flexibility, transparency, weight and cost. By optimizing these characteristics it should be possible to improve mask design. This will maximize the magnitude and reduce the variability of the dose presented to the respiratory tract while making the mask more comfortable and patient/caregiver-friendly.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.