Heat and moisture exchangers and breathing system filters: their use in anaesthesia and intensive care. Part 2 - practical use, including problems, and their use with paediatric patients

Anaesthesia. 2011 Jan;66(1):40-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2010.06564.x. Epub 2010 Nov 30.


Heat and moisture exchangers and breathing system filters are intended to replace the normal warming, humidifying and filtering functions of the upper airways. The first part of this review considered the history, principles of operation and efficiency of these devices. The aim of this part of the review is to summarise recent guidelines on the use of these devices and outline the problems that can occur. In particular, the effect of these devices on gas analysis, dead space, resistance to gas flow and blockage of the breathing system is considered. In children, it is important to consider the addition of dead space and resistance to gas flow. A body weight of 2.5 kg is probably the lower weight limit for use with heat and moisture exchangers, and 3 kg for filters. The resistance to gas flow of a heat- and moisture-exchanging filter added to a Mapleson F breathing system can cause a delay in the induction of anaesthesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / instrumentation*
  • Child
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection / transmission
  • Filtration / instrumentation
  • Heating / adverse effects
  • Heating / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Pediatrics / instrumentation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Respiration, Artificial / instrumentation*