This is one of the most common questions among those that we are asked by patients. The answer is not simple, but you will discover at the end of the article.
1) Modality of delivery of oxygen
The main difference between the portable oxygen concentrator and liquid oxygen tank is the type of delivery. The concentrator delivers oxygen only when the patient is in the process of inspiration, and not be paid anything when the patient is in the process of exhalation. This type of dispensing discontinuous is defined "pulsed" or "on demand".
In contrast, the oxygen cylinder delivers oxygen in continuous flow: both in inspiration phase that in exhalation phase oxygen is being supplied. For this reason, most of the oxygen in the cylinder (approximately 3/4 of the content) is provided without any utility, definitely a great waste in times of crisis.
2) The rehabilitation function of portable oxygen concentrators
Thanks to their type of dispensing the portable concentrators allow greater rehabilitation - and thus a general improvement - of the respiratory system. Being the oxygen delivered only by nasal cannula, and only during inhalation, the patient can not use his mouth as compensation to oxygenate the lungs. On the contrary, with the liquid oxygen tank you can breathe with your mouth open thanks to the oxygen flow in excess that is poured over his face, both with the nasal cannula than the face mask.
Although it may seem strange, forcing himself to breathe as much as possible with only the nose allows you to achieve greater efficiency in breathing and thus a better oxygen saturation in the blood: it is not uncommon for some patients transferred from the liquid oxygen to the oxygen concentrator portable able to reduce the supply of oxygen of at least 1 or 2 l/min.
3) The fear remain without oxygen
One of the greatest fears of those who carry the oxygen is running out of oxygen: in fact the cylinder is emptied regularly and needs a recharge service/replacement to ensure continuous therapy to the patient. Often the service of those who wear oxygen at home is not so efficient, and so the patients live in constant fear of getting the oxygen in time before it runs out. Even larger is, then, the fear of running out of oxygen when you go around with the stroller (the portable cylinder): its autonomy is limited in time and is often less than expected. For this reason many patients prefer not to leave the house or go out for a short time to avoid this problem.
With the oxygen concentrator that fear does not exist with the ability to produce oxygen wherever you are, and thanks to the ability to use the oxygen concentrator or recharge it anywhere (at home, at the restaurant, in the car, etc), the autonomy is virtually unlimited and the psychological prison has no reason to exist.
By contrast, the concentrators are electrical instruments and as such may experience failures or blocks (exactly as happens with cell phones), so they can stop working without warning; the latest generations of medical devices (such as the Inogen One) are particularly difficult to secure and present issues of an electrical or electronic.
4) The weight
Another key aspect to consider when choosing between oxygen concentrators and portable cylinders is weight: an average of one stroller weighs 3-4 kg or more when it is completely full of oxygen. Modern portable oxygen concentrators are true featherweight: just think of the concentrator Inogen One G3, with inserted battery, weighs just 2.2 Kg (in fact it is currently the world's lightest concentrator). The battery itself often affects the weight: with a battery of greater duration autonomy will be greater, but also the weight to bring with him will be greater.
For example, the Inogen One G2 concentrator with 12-cell battery has a life of about 4 hours and it weighs 3.1 Kg; if you want to double the autonomy, 8 hours at last, must use a battery to 24 cells, but the overall weight of the device grows up to 3.9 Kg.
Conclusions: For patients who feel strongly limited in their daily lives the portable oxygen concentrator is the only chance to enjoy a normal life. Both in clinical terms than psychological terms the concentrator is the solution that allows you to radically change your life: those who feel it, do not go back. However, even for patients who do not need special mobility, stationary or portable oxygen concentrator is an optimal solution: With this device you are sure to never run out of oxygen.