1. Oral high-frequency oscillation (OHFO) may have important effects on aerosol deposition in the lungs. In order to investigate these, a technique was devised to measure regional deposition rates of a nebulized radio-labelled aerosol in the lungs during normal tidal breathing.
2. The effect of three frequencies of OHFO on pulmonary aerosol deposition rate (PADR) in four normal subjects and five patients with chronic airways obstruction (CAO) were assessed using the technique.
3. In separate experiments employing three normal subjects, the effect of OHFO was studied on the deposition rate of aerosol on the oropharynx and delivery apparatus, and on the amount and characteristics of aerosol inhaled by the subjects.
4. Total PADR was significantly reduced by OHFO at 8 Hz and 16 Hz in the normal subjects, and by all three frequencies of OHFO in the CAO patients. In the normal subjects, the regional distribution of aerosol deposition was unchanged, but in the CAO patients a larger proportion of total aerosol deposition occurred in peripheral lung.
5. OHFO reduced the oropharyngeal aerosol deposition rate, increased the loss of aerosol to the atmosphere before inhalation, and increased the deposition of aerosol on the delivery apparatus. The end result was a reduction in the amount of aerosol inhaled, and in the particle sizes measured at the mouthpiece.
6. We conclude that OHFO reduces the amount of aerosol inhaled, but may improve peripheral deposition of inhaled aerosol in patients with CAO. This effect may be of value in the clinical administration of nebulized drugs.