There is mounting evidence that a variety of drugs delivered as aerosols are likely to be of benefit in neonatal units. To avoid many of the problems associated with the use of jet nebulisers in ventilator circuits, a chamber was designed to be used in conjunction with a metered dose inhaler (MDI). The dimensions (4 cm x 11 cm) were chosen in an attempt to maximise drug delivery. In vitro studies were subsequently performed in order to determine the optimum operating conditions. Sodium cromoglycate delivered via this system was collected on a filter placed between the tip of an endotracheal tube and a model lung. The dose delivered was determined by means of an ultraviolet spectrophotometric assay. Using a Draeger Babylog 8000 ventilator it was found that drug delivery as maximised by actuating the device just before the inspiratory cycle when the chamber was placed adjacent to the endotracheal tube and by using a long (one second) inspiratory time. Under these conditions 1.5-2% of the original dose was deposited upon the filter at tidal volumes of 11-22 ml. When considered in terms of body weight this is many times the equivalent dose delivered to adults from an MDI. Effective drug delivery to the filter was confirmed using a radiolabelled aerosol. Radiolabelled studies delivering aerosol to the lungs of intubated rabbits demonstrated that deposition aerosol was distributed uniformly between lobes when corrected for the weight of each lobe. In conclusion, the device appears likely to deliver significant, reproducible quantities of drug to the lower respiratory tract while being simple to use.
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