Ex Vivo Assessment and Validation of Water Exchange Performance of 23 Heat and Moisture Exchangers for Laryngectomized Patients
BACKGROUND: Breathing through a tracheostoma results in insufficient warming and humidification of the inspired air. This loss of air conditioning, especially humidification, can be partially restored with the application of a heat and moisture exchanger (HME) over the tracheostoma. For medical professionals, it is not easy to judge differences in water exchange performance of various HMEs owing to the lack of universal outcome measures. This study has three aims: assessment of the water
... of the water exchange performance of commercially available HMEs for laryngectomized patients, validation of these results with absolute humidity outcomes, and assessment of the role of hygroscopic salt present in some of the tested HMEs. METHODS: Measurements of weight and absolute humidity at end inspiration and end expiration at different breathing volumes of a healthy volunteer were performed using a microbalance and humidity sensor. Twenty-three HMEs from 6 different manufacturers were tested. Associations were determined between core weight, weight change, breathing volume, and absolute humidity, using both linear and nonlinear mixed effects models. RESULTS: Water exchange of the 23 HMEs at a breathing volume of 0.5 L varies between 0.5 and 3.6 mg. Both water exchange and wet core weight correlate strongly with the end-inspiratory absolute humidity values (r 2 ؍ 0.89/0.87). Hygroscopic salt increases core weight. CONCLUSIONS: The 23 tested HMEs for laryngectomized patients show wide variation in water exchange performance. Water exchange correlates well with the end-inspiratory absolute humidity outcome, which validates the ex vivo weight change method. Wet core weight is a predictor of HME performance. Hygroscopic salt increases the weight of the core material. The results of this study can help medical professionals to obtain a more founded opinion about the performance of available HMEs for pulmonary rehabilitation in laryngectomized patients, and allow them to make an informed decision about which HME type to use.