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Ambulatory oxygen therapy

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Ambulatory Oxygen Therapy

  • refers to the provision of oxygen therapy during exercise and activities of daily living
  • ambulatory oxygen therapy can be prescribed in patients on long term oxygen therapy (LTOT), who are mobile and need to or can leave the home on a regular basis.
  • type of portable device provided will depend on the patient's mobility and it has been shown that relatively few patients with COPD actually use ambulatory oxygen therapy for more than 4 hours daily in the first instance
  • characteristics of longer-term concordance are unknown
  • indicated for the following conditions
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • severe chronic asthma
    • interstitial lung disease
    • cystic fibrosis
    • pulmonary vascular disease
    • primary pulmonary hypertension
  • ambulatory oxygen has been shown to be effective in increasing exercise capacity and reducing breathlessness in patients with exercise arterial oxygen desaturation, defined as a fall in SaO2 of 4% to a value <90%
    • purpose of ambulatory oxygen is to enable the patient to leave the home for a longer period of time, to improve daily activities and quality of life
    • patients who are candidates for ambulatory oxygen prescription will be either already on LTOT or they will have a PaO2 above the limit for LTOT prescription but show evidence of exercise de-saturation
    • ambulatory oxygen therapy should only be prescribed after appropriate assessment by the hospital specialist


  • ambulatory oxygen therapy is:
    • not recommended in patients with chronic lung disease and mild hypoxaemia (not on LTOT) without exercise de-saturation
    • not recommended for patients with chronic heart failure


  1. British Thoracic Society (January 2006). Report on Clinical Component for the Home Oxygen Service in England and Wales.

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