• Characterization of an aerosol is of major importance for the understanding of its pathogenic, diagnostic, or therapeutic effect. The parameters necessary for such characterization as well as the methods for obtaining them are reviewed. The factors that determine site of deposition in the human lung are discussed. Further, we have reviewed methods employed to produce aerosols for diagnostic, therapeutic, and clinical research uses. Basic and relatively simple knowledge of aerosol characterization can increase the usefulness of clinical aerosols. Using this knowledge, general principles for aerosol administration are developed. Finally, the application of aerosols in the diagnosis of respiratory diseases is presented; these aerosols include contrast agents, radioactive aerosols, and bronchospastic agents.
(Arch Intern Med 1982;142:2163-2172)