Friday, April 7, 2017

1930: Pneumostat, the first electric nebulizer

Pneumostat in use (2)
While a variety of steam inhalers were available in 1850, it was learned that the best way of getting medication to the lungs was not by steam but by mist. Between the 1850s and 1930 there were a ton of inhaler and nebulizer devises made, but none were ideal.

The problem with these early mist producing inhalers was that they required manpower to create the flow needed to create the mist. As with other industries, the ability to control electricity changed everything. Marketers soon started playing with the idea of creating an electric nebulizer.  

The first one to enter the market was produced by Weil in Frankfort.
It was a compact unit, meaning it was a combination compressor and nebulizer.  The comperssor created the electricity that created the flow to turn the solution of water and medicine to a mist. 

According to "Hugh Smyth, in his book, "Controlled Pulmonary Drug Delivery," it was a "110-120 volt machine was supplied in UK by Riddle to nebulize bronchovydrin (papaverine and eumydrine)."   (1, page 68)

Pneumostat (2)
Bronchovydrin also had adrenaline (epinephrine) and atropine in it.  It was a solution used to provide quick relief of an asthma attack.  I really had a hard time finding any other information on it, although it was used by lifelong asthmatic Harold Beck.

The electric nebulizer of the 1930s was epensive, so the physician may prefer to have the patient use a nebulizer where the flow is generated by hand power, like it was prior to the electric device.  One option would be the Adrenaline Inhaler or the Devilbiss No. 40 Glass Nebulizer.

Considering the bulkiness and cost of this machine, it was common for a pharmacist to own one, and for patients in need to visit that pharmacist. (3)

  1. Smyth, Hugh D.C., "Controlled Pulmonary Drug Delivery," 
  2. Sanders, Mark, "Pneumostat,", page 131,
  3. Nickander, K, Mark Sanders, "The early evolution of nebulizers," MedicaMundi, 2010, 54/3, pages 47-53

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