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Anaesth Intensive Care. 1995 Dec;23(6):697-701.

The impact of heat and moisture exchanging humidifiers on work of breathing.

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Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, N.S.W.


In this study the resistive work or breathing (WOB) associated with eleven commercially available heat and moisture exchangers (HMEs) was evaluated for gas flow rates of 20 to 60 l.min-1. The Gibeck Humid-Vent 2S Flex was also assessed after 24 hours patient usage (n = 50). The WOB associated with these devices was compared with that of standard endotracheal tubes and standard humidifying circuits with flex-tube connectors. The range of work imposed by the eleven HMEs approximated the range shown by water bath circuitry when used with two different commonly used flex-tube connectors. The excess WOB attributed to the HMEs was significantly less than that imposed by standard endotracheal tubes. After 24 hours of patient use, 96% of the Gibeck HMEs tested demonstrated a resistive WOB within the range of the two flex-tube connectors. To assess the clinical significance of this circuit-related WOB, we compared respiratory variables in 40 patients breathing on either CPAP or pressure support ventilation, using a variation in flex-tube resistance which imposed a range of WOB comparable to that shown by the HMEs. A small but statistically significant reduction was found for both the peak flow (48 +/- 1.4 vs 45 +/- 1.1 l.min-1, P < 0.0005) and the minute volume (8.6 +/- 0.35 vs 7.9 +/- 0.31, l, P < 0.0005). These data suggest that the range of resistive work imposed by commercially available HMEs has a small but potentially significant effect on clinical respiratory parameters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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