The influence of breathing pattern on lung deposition and bronchodilator response to nebulised salbutamol is uncertain. Three different breathing patterns were assessed in eight patients with chronic stable asthma. Salbutamol solution (2.5 mg in 4 ml) mixed with technetium-99m labelled human serum albumin was nebulised by an Acorn nebuliser at a flow rate of 6 litres a minute. Particles with a mass median aerodynamic diameter of 4.8 microns were produced for inhalation by (a) tidal breathing, (b) six tidal breaths followed by three deep breaths, and (c) six tidal breaths followed by three deep breaths with a five second breath hold after each breath. Each breathing pattern was continued for four minutes. There was no significant difference in the percentage of radioaerosol deposited in the lung or in the distribution of radioaerosol within the lung as assessed by gamma camera imaging. Changes in bronchodilator responses as measured by peak expiratory flow rate (PEF), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and forced vital capacity (FVC) 30, 45, and 60 minutes after inhalation were similar for the three studies. The mean (SEM) maximum percentage change in FEV1 was 44 (7.1), 47 (9.2), and 51 (8.4) for studies 1, 2, and 3 respectively. The percentage of nebulised solution deposited in the body was also similar for the three breathing patterns--that is, 11-13%, of which 98% entered the lung. This study shows that inhaling a nebulised aerosol by tidal breathing, the simplest method, is as effective as tidal breathing with deep breaths with or without a breath hold.
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