Humidification is concerned with the addition of water vapour to a gas and can be measured as either absolute or relative. Adequate humidification is a vital consideration in anaesthesia given that the anatomical source of natural gas humidification (the nasopharynx) is generally bypassed, which can lead to complications including hypothermia, thickening of respiratory secretions, mucus plugging and airway keratinization. Humidification may be passive or active. Equipment involved in passive humidification includes HME filters, soda lime and cold water baths, with these devices able to achieve varying efficiencies without extrinsic energy input. Active humidification devices (including hot water baths) are capable of delivering a higher relative humidity but are associated with higher cost and potential hazards. While not strictly classed as true humidification devices, nebulizers are considered in this article as they add water droplets into a gas flow using a Venturi system, spinning discs or ultrasound vibration technology.
- Cold water bath humidifier
- heat and moisture exchange devices
- hot water bath humidifier
- soda lime