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Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:715434. doi: 10.1155/2014/715434. Epub 2014 Jun 25.

Humidification during mechanical ventilation in the adult patient.

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Division of Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68131, USA.
Respiratory Care and Pulmonary Function Laboratory, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Baylor University Medical Center, 3600 Gaston Avenue, Wadley Tower 1155, Dallas, TX 75246, USA.


Humidification of inhaled gases has been standard of care in mechanical ventilation for a long period of time. More than a century ago, a variety of reports described important airway damage by applying dry gases during artificial ventilation. Consequently, respiratory care providers have been utilizing external humidifiers to compensate for the lack of natural humidification mechanisms when the upper airway is bypassed. Particularly, active and passive humidification devices have rapidly evolved. Sophisticated systems composed of reservoirs, wires, heating devices, and other elements have become part of our usual armamentarium in the intensive care unit. Therefore, basic knowledge of the mechanisms of action of each of these devices, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, becomes a necessity for the respiratory care and intensive care practitioner. In this paper, we review current methods of airway humidification during invasive mechanical ventilation of adult patients. We describe a variety of devices and describe the eventual applications according to specific clinical conditions.

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