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The nasal distribution of metered does inhalers

  • S. P. Newman (a1), F. Morén (a2) and S. W. Clarke (a1)


The intranasal distribution of aerosol from a metered dose inhaler has been assessed using a radiotracer technique. Inhalers were prepared by adding 99Tcm-labelled Teflon particles (simulating the drug particles) to chlorofluorocarbon propellants, and scans of the head (and chest) taken with a gamma camera. Ten healthy subjects (age range 19–29 years) each performed two radioaerosol studies with the inhaler held in two different ways: either in a single position (vial pointing upwards) or in two positions (vial pointing upwards and then tilted by 30° in the sagittal plane).

The vast majority of the dose (82.5 ± 2.8 (mean ± SEM) per cent and 80.7 ± 3.1 per cent respectively for one-position and two-position studies) was deposited on a single localized area in the anterior one-third of the nose, the initial distribution pattern being identical for each study. No significant radioaerosol was detected in the lungs. Only 18.0 ± 4.7 per cent and 15.4 ± 4.1 per cent of the dose had been removed by mucociliary action after 30 minutes, and it is probable that the remainder had not penetrated initially beyond the vestibule. Since the deposition pattern was highly localized and more than half the dose probably failed to reach the turbinates it is possible that the overall effect of nasal MDIs is suboptimal for the treatment of generalized nasal disorders.


Corresponding author

Dr. S. P. Newman, Ph.D., Department of Thoracic Medicine, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London, NE3 2QG.


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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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