Little is known about delivery of aerosolised steroids to neonatal patients undergoing assisted positive pressure ventilation and after extubation. A rabbit model has been established to investigate factors influencing drug delivery. Beclomethasone dipropionate, in a metered dose inhaler, was radiolabelled with technetium 99m. The mass median aerodynamic diameter of the aerosol was 3.3 (2.0) microns and the impactor measurements confirmed that the technetium distribution corresponded with that of the drug particles. The metered dose inhaler was actuated into a collapsible spacer that was used to ventilate and deliver aerosol to anaesthetised rabbits by a tracheostomy. From each actuation of the drug 2.9 (0.4)% of the aerosol deposited in the trachea and main bronchi and 1.2 (0.4)% in the lung. When the drug was delivered by a spacer device, with face-mask attachment, to rabbits breathing freely through a tracheostomy, aerosol deposition increased to 4.4 (2.1)% in the trachea and main bronchi and 1.9 (0.9)% in the lung lobes. The maximum change in systolic blood pressure after administration of aerosol by the collapsible spacer was a decrease of 13%. The methods described may prove useful for the delivery of inhaled steroids to neonatal patients likely to develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
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