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Int J Pharm. 2002 Dec 5;249(1-2):233-45.

Design and application of a new modular adapter for laser diffraction characterization of inhalation aerosols.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy, Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration (GUIDE), University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 1, 9713 AV, Groningen, The Netherlands.


An inhaler adapter has been designed for the characterization of the aerosol clouds from medical aerosol generators such as nebulizers, dry powder inhalers (dpis) and metered dose inhalers (mdis) with laser diffraction technology. The adapter has a pre-separator, for separation of large particles (i.e. carrier crystals) from the aerosol cloud before it is exposed to the laser beam. It also has a fine particle collector for measuring the emitted mass fraction of fines by chemical detection methods after laser diffraction sizing. The closed system enables flow control through the aerosol generators and all test conditions, including ambient temperature and relative humidity, are automatically recorded. Counter flows minimize particle deposition onto the two windows for the laser beam, which make successive measurements without cleaning of these windows possible. The adapter has successfully been tested for nebulizers, mdis and dpis. In a comparative study with ten nebulizers it was found that these devices differ considerably in droplet size (distribution) of the aerosol cloud for the same 10% aqueous tobramycin solution (volume median diameters ranging from 1.25 to 3.25 microm) when they are used under the conditions recommended by the manufacturers. The droplet size distribution generated by the Sidestream (with PortaNeb compressor) is very constant during nebulization until dry running of the device. Comparative testing of dpis containing spherical pellet type of formulations for the drug (e.g. the AstraZeneca Turbuhaler) with the adapter is fast and simple. But also formulations containing larger carrier material could successfully be measured. Disintegration efficiency of a test inhaler with carrier retainment (acting as a pre-separator) could be measured quite accurately both for a colistin sulfate formulation with 16.7% of a lactose fraction 106-150 microm and for a budesonide formulation with a carrier mixture of Pharmatose 325 and 150 M. Therefore, it is concluded that, with this special adapter, laser diffraction may be a valuable tool for comparative inhaler evaluation, device development, powder formulation and quality control. Compared to cascade impactor analysis, laser diffraction is much faster. In addition to that, more detailed and also different information about the aerosol cloud is obtained.

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