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Humidification to Tracheostomy via HME (Heat/Moisture Exchanger)

Humidification to Tracheostomy via HME (Heat/Moisture Exchanger)
Laura Castricone, CRT

A heat/ moisture exchanger also known as an HME is a tiny cap that fits over the opening to the trach tube and has a sponge or absorbent material inside. How it works to moisturize the airway is very simple. When you exhale thru the HME, it captures your exhaled heat and moisture and on your next breath, it delivers that back to your airway. This way of delivering moisture is very efficient and portable. HME’S are disposable and need no cleaning. They are appropriate for patients who can have their trach opening covered and can still breathe (for some, anything that covers the opening to the trach can obstruct breathing). It is appropriate for patients who do not have copious secretions (mucus). It is recommended that this be ordered by a physician and that you be trialed on it in a controlled setting before you use it at home. If it is used and the patient cannot tolerate it, you can simply remove it and use large volume humidification is lieu of the HME.

Advantages of Heat/ Moisture Exchanger

  • Disposable (throw away daily or more frequently)
  • Portable
  • No water needed
  • No electricity needed
  • No cleaning needed
  • Tolerated by most trach patients
  • Allows patient to be more independent
  • No noise

Limitations of Heat/ Moisture Exchanger

  • Cannot use if you have a lot of mucus
  • May make breathing more difficult or increase shortness of breath
  • May not be indicated due to low tidal volumes when breathing


All You Need To Know About Tracheostomy



Author Profile: Laura Castricone, Respiratory Therapist

Laura Castricone (Certified Respiratory Therapist)

My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory care including sleep medicine, critical care, rehab, and home care. I earned my respiratory certification at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Prior to becoming an RT, I attended the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in English but left Uconn in my junior year to work with my father in the restaurant business. I stayed with him for over a dozen years. An education, by the way, that can never be bought! Once I married and had children, the restaurant business no longer fit my lifestyle. When my children were one and two years old, I decided to go back to school and that is where my career in respiratory care began. This career has been very rewarding and I have been blessed to meet some extraordinary people along the way. I grew up in Waterbury, CT, and now live in Litchfield County, CT with my husband and our crazy Jack Russell terrier, Hendrix. My hobbies include antiquing, gardening, writing plays, and painting miniature paintings.


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HPFY Laura Castricone, CRT

Laura Castricone, CRT

LinkedIn Profile My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory ...

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