What is an Oxygen Concentrator?
Oxygen Concentrator is an electronic device that provides Oxygen to the patients by concentrating room air (ambient air) into pure oxygen.
The air we breathe is mainly comprised of Nitrogen (78%) & Oxygen (21%). This machine takes the room air using a compressor, removes Nitrogen from it and delivers medical grade Oxygen up to 95% purity.
Based on the principle of Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) technology, these oxygen machines are now widely used in homes for oxygen therapy especially where liquid or pressurized oxygen is too dangerous or inconvenient.
Oxygen concentrator can replicate the function of an Oxygen cylinder; however, the only snag is that it uses electricity even though the power consumption is minimal.
When is it used?
Patients who have respiratory conditions like COPD, ILD, etc. that cause low levels of oxygen in their blood.
An Oxygen Concentrator is used when a patient is prescribed supplemental Oxygen to fulfil the basic Oxygen needs of the body.
The number of hours that the physician prescribes oxygen therapy can vary from 1 to 24 hrs per day depending upon patient’s condition.
It is highly advised to start using supplemental Oxygen as soon as it is recommended by a physician.
How does it work?
The basic working of an Oxygen Concentrator is simple; it takes room air, removes Nitrogen from it and gives us medical grade O2 up to 95% purity.
Since Nitrogen and Oxygen are two main components of air with 78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen; the air is left with 90-95% pure Oxygen after removing Nitrogen from it.
Working in 4 simple steps:
- Room air taken in the machine
- Nitrogen trapped & removed from air leaving behind O2 as primary gas
- Adjusting the O2 delivery flow in Litres Per Minute (LPM)
- 90-95% pure Oxygen delivered to patient through delivery systems like Nasal cannula, mask, etc.
Main article: How does an Oxygen Concentrator work?
Stationary Oxygen Concentrator:
Staionary concentrator also known as home oxygen concentrator is the one which works only on AC mains. All stationary Oxygen Concentrators deliver continuous flow of Oxygen just like a cylinder with standard delivery systems.
It is called stationary because the patient cannot carry it all the time as an Oxygen source with him/her but it can easily be moved in home as most manufacturers manufacture models that are mounted on wheels and weigh from about 9kg (19 lbs) to 28 kg (61 lbs).
Portable Oxygen Concentrator:
They are similar to home oxygen concentrators but smaller in size, lighter in weight, easy to carry and can work on battery as well as AC mains. Most portable models are pulse flow based but some have continuous mode as well.
Main article: Portable Oxygen Concentrator
Top Manufacturers (with models)
AirSep - About the company
Philips Respironics - About the company
- EverFlow Concentrator
- EverFlow Q quite Concentrator
- Millenium M10 - Product review
Nidek Medical - About the company
- Nuvo Lite
- Nuvo 8
Invacare - About the company
- Perfect O2 V
- Platinum 10
DeVilbiss Healthcare - About the company
- 5 Liter Oxygen Concentrator
- Companion 5 - Product review
Flow of Oxygen through the airways tends to dry them up just like normally air would do to any wet surface. In order to avoid the dryness in nose and throat of patients, a humidifier is required.
O2 bubbles through the water in humidifier bottle and gets moistened. Usually it is said that humidification is required for flows higher than 3 Litres Per Minute (LPM). Also note that humidifier is not required in pulse flow of a portable oxygen concentrator.
O2 Delivery systems
Most commonly used O2 Delivery Sytems are: Nasal Cannula and Simple face Mask. However other than these two, some other less common systems are non-rebreathing mask, partial re-breathing mask, Trans-tracheal catheter and Ventury mask.
O2 is delivered directly to nostrils through a thin tube called Nasal cannula which is connected to the source by one end and the other end is splitted into 2 prongs & is placed in nostrils.
Simple face mask is a single patient use plastic mask which is to be placed on the face of patient covering nose and lips for respiration.
Oxygen Concentrators are increasingly becoming popular across the world. They are much more reliable than cylinders as they don’t run out of the gas and don’t require any refills; Oxygen concentrator is an economic alternative for patients who have to take Oxygen on regular basis as a medical intervention.
- Oxygen Concentrator is a machine that takes in room air, removes Nitrogen from it and provides 90-95% pure Oxygen to patients.
- It is more economic and convenient than using Oxygen cylinders as it doesn't require any refills.
- Used when a patient is prescribed supplemental Oxygen due to low Oxygen level in blood.
- 2 types: Stationary and Portable
- Top manufacturers: AirSep, Philips Respironics, Nidek, Invacare, DeVilbiss Healthcare
- Accessories used with the machine are: Humidifier to moisten dry Oxygen, Nasal Cannula / Mask to deliver Oxygen to patient.