Aerosol therapy is a key modality for drug delivery to the lungs of respiratory disease patients. Aerosol therapy improves therapeutic effects by directly targeting diseased lung regions for rapid onset of action, requiring smaller doses than oral or intravenous delivery and minimizing systemic side effects. In order to optimize treatment of critically ill patients, the efficacy of aerosol therapy depends on lung morphology, breathing patterns, aerosol droplet characteristics, disease, mechanical ventilation, pharmacokinetics, and the pharmacodynamics of cell-drug interactions. While aerosol characteristics are influenced by drug formulations and device mechanisms, most other factors are reliant on individual patient variables. This has led to increased efforts towards more personalized therapeutic approaches to optimize pulmonary drug delivery and improve selection of effective drug types for individual patients. Vibrating mesh nebulizers (VMN) are the dominant device in clinical trials involving mechanical ventilation and emerging drugs. In this review, we consider the use of VMN during mechanical ventilation in intensive care units. We aim to link VMN fundamentals to applications in mechanically ventilated patients and look to the future use of VMN in emerging personalized therapeutic drugs.
Keywords: ARDS; COPD; aerosol therapy; intensive care unit; jet nebulizer; mechanical ventilation; nebulization; sepsis; vibrating mesh nebulizer.