Hygroscopic condenser humidifiers in chronically tracheostomized patients who breathe spontaneously

M. Vitacca, E. Clini, K. Foglio, S. Scalvini, S. Marangoni, A. Quadri, N. Ambrosino

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The aim of this study was to test the usefulness of hygroscopic condenser humidifiers on secretion and on inspired gas temperature in tracheostomized patients. Forty spontaneously breathing chronically tracheostomized patients were divided into two groups: Group 1 received a hygroscopic condenser humidifier connected to the tracheostomy, 24 h daily for 10 days; Group 2, without any protection system, was chosen as the control group. The daily number of tracheal suctions, quantity of aspirate and thickness and colouring of secretions was evaluated. At baseline, and at days 5 and 10, patients were submitted to blood gas analysis, respiratory function tests and sputum analysis. The temperature of gases breathed was measured at rest and during a hyperventilation test, with and without the hygroscopic condenser humidifier. Statistically significant differences were found in thickness and colouring of secretions between the two groups during the period of 10 days. Group 2 showed a significantly greater trend in number of bacteria than Group 1. The group with the hygroscopic condenser humidifier showed respiratory function improvement over time for forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and tidal volume (V(T)), maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP), and maximal voluntary ventilation (MVV) in comparison to the control group, who did not. Significant differences in the temperature between rest and hyperventilation, with and without a hygroscopic condenser humidifier were also found. In conclusion, a hygroscopic condenser humidifier may be useful in chronically tracheostomized patients who breathe spontaneously, improving viscosity and colouring of secretions, preventing further bacterial colonization, heating inspiratory flow, and helping to improve the functional outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2026-2032
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Airway bacterial colonization
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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