Ambulatory oxygen has become the standard of care for patients who can and will increase their exercise capacity beyond the 50 feet of oxygen tubing which connects to a stationary source. Liquid portable and small high-pressure cylinders which weigh less than ten pounds, have become widely available for this purpose. As reported earlier in these letters, correcting the oxygen deficit with oxygen and increasing cardiac output through exercise, improves the transport of oxygen to tissues, and fosters an increase in energy production, known as bioenergetics.
Now a newer technology, makes oxygen even more convenient and less burdensome than ever before. The new HELIOS system, produced by Mallinckrodt, weighs only 3.4 pounds, and provides a ten hour supply of oxygen when used with a conserving device. The complete system (reservoir, conserver, and portable device), makes this method superior to any of the combinations of concentrators and high-pressure cylinders. This is the first liquid portable oxygen system that minimizes leaks and conserves oxygen. This reduces the frequency of home deliveries and makes this system economically competitive to stationary oxygen systems. Thus, issues and controversies over reimbursement could be diminished.
In addition, another technology which generates liquid oxygen in the home by diverting a small portion of the flow from a concentrator through a device called a cryocooler, makes a full day's supply of liquid oxygen. The system can fill the existing ambulatory liquid containers being so widely used throughout this Country, and elsewhere in the world.
Through better oxygen transport to the tissues, a restoration of major organ systems is likely to occur. This improves not only survival, but also the quality of life. We admire the ingenuity of engineers, designers, and manufacturers who are developing better oxygen equipment for suppliers, to assist patients in need.
I will be in touch next month.
Thomas Petty, MD