Laryngectomized patients, lacking conditioning of the breathing air in the upper respiratory tract, have reported considerable pulmonary complaints. It is assumed that these patients also run a higher risk of developing severe respiratory infections. Unfortunately, there is little scientific information available about the occurrence of respiratory infections and related health costs in these patients with and without the use of an HME. Therefore, the occurrence of respiratory infections in laryngectomized patients was investigated in the Netherlands Cancer Institute and by means of a survey among head and neck oncology surgeons throughout Europe. The number of tracheobronchitis and/or pneumonia events was retrospectively scored between 1973 and 2013 in medical records of 89 laryngectomized patients treated in our institute. To assess expert experiences and opinions regarding these pulmonary problems, a study-specific survey was developed. The survey was sent by email to head and neck surgeons from ten different countries. In the medical record study, an average of 0.129 respiratory infections per patient/year was found in non-HME users and 0.092 in HME users. In the survey (response rate HN surgeons 20 %; countries 90 %) 0.285 episodes per patient/year in non-HME users was statistically higher than the 0.066 episodes per patient/year in HME users. The average mortality in the HME user group per entire career of each physician was estimated at 0.0045, and for the non-HME user group this was 0.0152. There is a tendency that the number of tracheobronchitis and pneumonia episodes in non-HME users is higher than in HME users.
- Heat and moisture exchanger