Health problem addressed
Oxygen concentrators provide supplementary oxygen for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
and, in higher concentrations, for severe chronic hypoxemia and pulmonary edema. They may be used as an adjunct treatment for severe sleep apnea (in conjunction with a continuous positive airway pressure unit). Oxygen concentrators are typically used as stationary sources to provide long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) to patients at home.
Oxygen concentrators consist of a cabinet that houses the compressor and filters; tubing; a nasal cannula and/or face mask. Portable units will additionally include an AC and/or DC charger, and a battery.
Principles of operation
The concentrator draws in room air and passes it through a series of filters that remove dust, bacteria, and other particulates. In the first step of the concentration process, a compressor forces air into one of the two cylinders containing sieve material, where nitrogen is adsorbed, leaving concentrated oxygen and a small percentage of other gases found in room air. Simultaneously, in the other cylinder, nitrogen is desorbed and exhausted into the atmosphere. In the second step, the function of the cylinders is reversed in a timed cycle, providing a continuous flow of oxygen to the patient.
• The concentrator is properly set up by an expert.
• Unit is plugged in to a power source, turned on, and the
oxygen flow is adjusted as prescribed by a doctor.
• A nasal cannula or mask is applied to the patient.
• The concentrator is used for the prescribed amount of time,
typically continuously for days or weeks at a time.