The choice of jet nebulizer, nebulizing flow, and addition of albuterol affects the output of tobramycin aerosols

Chest. 1997 May;111(5):1206-12. doi: 10.1378/chest.111.5.1206.


The use of inhaled antibiotics in the treatment of cystic fibrosis has become widespread despite controversy in the literature as to the appropriate dosing regimen and its effectiveness. This study compared two tobramycin (T) preparations (one with and one without the addition of albuterol) using two different jet nebulizers in order to determine if drug output would be affected. Using calibrated flows from a dry compressed gas source of 6 and 8 L/min as well as a specific compressor (Pulmo-Aide), the Hudson 1720 nebulizer was compared with the newer disposable Hudson 1730. The albuterol preparation used in this study was the Ventolin (albuterol) Respirator Solution (VRS). The nebulizers were charged with (1) 2 mL T (80 mg/2 mL) with 0.5 mL VRS (5 mg/mL) and normal saline solution to make the total nebulizer charge of 3 or 4 mL, or (2) 2 mL T and either 1 or 2 mL normal saline solution. A laser diffraction analyzer (Malvern 2600) was used to determine the aerosol particle size distribution. From the distribution, the respirable fraction, which is the fraction of aerosol that could enter and remain in the lungs, was calculated. For all solutions and each particular flow, the Hudson 1730 had a larger respirable fraction of T. The addition of VRS lowered the surface tension of the solution in the nebulizer and resulted in a greater output of T. This effect was most apparent for the 3-mL volume fills of the Hudson 1720. The greatest differences were between the 3-mL nebulizer charges of T using the Hudson 1720 driven by a flow of 6 L/min, which produced 8 mg of T in the respirable fraction, compared with 35 mg produced by the Hudson 1730 driven by a flow of 8 L/min. These results suggest that different nebulizers, different nebulizer solutions, and different techniques of nebulization may result in very different amounts of T aerosol output in the respirable fraction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage*
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / chemistry
  • Aerosols
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage*
  • Albuterol / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Calibration
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Disposable Equipment
  • Drug Combinations
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Lasers
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Particle Size
  • Respiration
  • Rheology
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Surface Tension
  • Tobramycin / administration & dosage*
  • Tobramycin / chemistry


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Aerosols
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Albuterol
  • Tobramycin