Masks are an essential interface between valved holding chambers (VHCs), or spacers, and a small child's face for providing aerosol therapy. Clinical experience suggests that many young children do not cooperate with the VHC treatment or tolerate a mask of any kind. This might impair the mask–face seal and reduce the dose delivered to the child. The objective of this study was to evaluate the ability of parents to provide a good mask–face seal in infants and toddlers using 3 masks provided with commonly used pediatric VHCs and compare this with the seal obtained with the Hans Rudolph pediatric anesthesia mask.
A preliminary in vitro filter study was conducted to validate the assumption that reduced ventilation as a result of increased facemask leak reduces the drug aerosol dose delivered to the mouth. Facemask leak then was studied in vivo for NebuChamber, AeroChamber, BabyHaler, and Hans Rudolph masks by measuring ventilation with an in-line pneumotachograph while the facemask was held in place by experienced parents who were asked to demonstrate how they deliver medication to their children without any additional instruction. Thirty children (mean age: 3.2 ± 1.4 years) performed 4 repeat studies with each mask. The first 10 patients performed the tests once again within 1 month. On the second occasion, the parents were coached continuously and encouraged to hold the mask tightly against the child's face.
The AeroChamber and Hans Rudolph masks provided the best seal as reflected in the magnitude of the ventilation measured through them. The NebuChamber provided the poorest seal, with 45% less ventilation than the AeroChamber and Hans Rudolph masks. There was considerable intraindividual variability for all masks (24% to 48%); however, the variability with the NebuChamber mask was 2-fold greater than the other masks. All ventilatory volumes during the coached session were significantly greater than during the uncoached session. Variability during the coached session was significantly less (except for the BabyHaler, which remained unchanged).
VHCs with masks designed for use with small children may provide a poor seal with the face, leading to reduced or more variable dose delivery. The facemask seal is critical for efficient aerosol delivery to infants and young children, and this should be stressed to parents.