Humidification and heating of inhaled gas in patients with artificial airway. A narrative review

Rev Bras Ter Intensiva. 2018 Mar;30(1):86-97. doi: 10.5935/0103-507x.20180015.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Instrumentation of the airways in critical patients (endotracheal tube or tracheostomy cannula) prevents them from performing their function of humidify and heating the inhaled gas. In addition, the administration of cold and dry medical gases and the high flows that patients experience during invasive and non-invasive mechanical ventilation generate an even worse condition. For this reason, a device for gas conditioning is needed, even in short-term treatments, to avoid potential damage to the structure and function of the respiratory epithelium. In the field of intensive therapy, the use of heat and moisture exchangers is common for this purpose, as is the use of active humidification systems. Acquiring knowledge about technical specifications and the advantages and disadvantages of each device is needed for proper use since the conditioning of inspired gases is a key intervention in patients with artificial airway and has become routine care. Incorrect selection or inappropriate configuration of a device can have a negative impact on clinical outcomes. The members of the Capítulo de Kinesiología Intensivista of the Sociedad Argentina de Terapia Intensiva conducted a narrative review aiming to show the available evidence regarding conditioning of inhaled gas in patients with artificial airways, going into detail on concepts related to the working principles of each one.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Critical Illness
  • Equipment Design
  • Heating
  • Humans
  • Humidifiers*
  • Humidity
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods*
  • Tracheostomy / methods