Effects of repetitive use and cleaning techniques of disposable jet nebulizers on aerosol generation

Chest. 1998 Aug;114(2):577-86. doi: 10.1378/chest.114.2.577.


Study objective: Patients with cystic fibrosis use disposable jet nebulizers for the self-administration of antibiotics, DNase, and bronchodilators several times per day. Most patients elect to reuse their disposable nebulizers. The purpose of this study was to determine if significant changes in particle size distribution or output (mL/min) occurred with reuse.

Design: In vitro studies were performed using four disposable models and one durable jet nebulizer for up to 100 runs; measurements of particle size and output were obtained at 10 run intervals, using saline solution alone, tobramycin, gentamicin, or a mixture of albuterol and cromolyn. Particle size determinations were made with a laser diffraction analyzer.

Results: There was no significant difference between the baseline performance of the four disposable models and the durable Pari LC, when measuring particle size distribution of the aerosol; the Pari LC had an output rate two to three times higher than the four disposable models. For each of the four solutes tested, there was no clinically significant change in performance for up to 100 cycles, when the nebulizers were properly cleaned between uses. Unwashed units containing tobramycin started to fail by 40 runs.

Conclusions: When properly maintained, there was no trend of deterioration of performance with repeated use of disposable nebulizers. Microbial contamination was not addressed in this study and must be considered prior to recommendations for the reuse of disposable nebulizers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols / standards*
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis
  • Bronchodilator Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchodilator Agents / analysis
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Disposable Equipment*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Equipment Reuse
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers*
  • Particle Size


  • Aerosols
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bronchodilator Agents