Review Articles

Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1-9

First online:

A review of the mechanisms and methods of humidification of inspired gases

  • M. P. ShellyAffiliated withAddenbrooke's Hospital
  • , G. M. LloydAffiliated withAddenbrooke's Hospital
  • , G. R. ParkAffiliated withAddenbrooke's Hospital

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Adequate humidification of inspired gases is important to avoid the hazards of under- and over-humidification. However, each patient will have an optimal level of humidification and as the condition of the patient changes so may his humidification requirements. At present, equipment to monitor humidity is not sufficienty sophisticated to allow accurate breath by breath measurements of humidity within the airway. The estimation of humidification requirements must, therefore, be based on existing scientific evidence and clinical impressions. Humidification of inspired gases should not be considered in isolation but as part of total airway management. It should be associated with careful fluid balance, physiotherapy, bronchial aspiration and appropriate drug therapy.