Last week I was in the hospital again for my asthma resulting in yet another intubation.
As sometimes happens, a few hours after coming off the ventilator I began to tire out and get tight again. The re-started interval neb treatments weren’t cutting it anymore, so they decided to put me back on continuous nebs. Well, to my surprise instead of placing me back on the old cont neb set up, they put me on a new system called Aerogen.
The continuous nebulization of bronchodilators is pretty standard therapy for the treatment severe asthma exacerbations while in the hospital. The problem with conventional continuous neb sets ups however, is that they require high flow rates to nebulize the medication and push it through the tubing into your lungs. As a result, a lot of the medication rains out in the tubing and on your face or can interfere with ventilator settings if placed inline. And because compressed gas is used to power most nebs, they can also be very noisy.
The UCSF RT department already uses the high tech Aerogen nebs on some of their ventilators to administer single inline neb treatments, but I became the first adult patient last week to try out out their new fleet of Aerogen units designed for continuous neb treatments. The Aerogen company invented a type of ultrasonic neb system that breaks up the medication into the smallest size particles for better respiratory deposition. The system is totally quiet and because there is virtually no flow at the mask end, almost all the drug ends up in your lungs. The product also uses a syringe driver to administer the precise amount medication as ordered to the neb chamber.
I found their nebulizer to be much more effective than the standard type of neb. Additionally, I found that it made be cough and clear my throat more often, which for me is an indication the my airways are responding the drug. I stayed on the Aerogen for about 6 hours. I can’t say for sure it was because of the Aerogen, but I was breathing better and able to come off it after 6 hours without having to be re-intubated which doesn’t always happen. Many thanks to the Respiratory Therapists at UCSF for trying this on me.