Tubing Lengths for Oxygen Therapy

Oct 12, 2022

Tubing Lengths for Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen tubing connects your oxygen device (often an oxygen concentrator or oxygen cylinder) to your nasal cannula or oxygen mask and delivers oxygen safely and effectively during oxygen therapy. If you are undergoing oxygen therapy, the standard recommendation for oxygen concentrator tubing length is approximately 15m for at-home cylinders and concentrators and often even shorter for portable oxygen systems.

While this length allows for decent movement around a home, what happens if you need longer tubing? Below we’ll discuss oxygen tubing, maximum tubing lengths, and how to stay safe while using extended tubing with your home oxygen system.

The pros and cons of longer oxygen tubing

Oxygen therapy can be restrictive, especially when a patient is using shorter tubing lengths, which may limit movement and make certain activities difficult. This can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening and can even impact a person’s well-being. Fortunately, lengths of oxygen tubing can easily connect together to create extra-long tubing that offers added convenience, more freedom and easier movement.

Despite these benefits, however, most prescribers continue to recommend a maximum length of 15m. This may be partially because longer tubing is more prone to getting tangled or kinked and extra tubing can create a trip hazard when not stored properly. Historically, though, this recommendation was more due to the belief that long tubing can dangerously reduce oxygen flow.

Can going over the maximum oxygen tubing length of 15m harm you? A study done in 2005 took a look at this commonly held belief.

Debunking the 15m debate

In 2005, DL Cullen and JA Koss completed a study to determine whether flow output changes with the addition of extra lengths of tubing. They discovered that, while results varied slightly depending on the oxygen system, it is safe to use tubing lengths of up to 60m without experiencing a significantly reduced flow rate. The study determined that flows of 1-2 L/minute are hardly affected by the greater length, while flows up to 5 L/min have no clinically important changes to the flow of oxygen.
Maximum oxygen tubing length is therefore influenced by the type of oxygen system and the prescribed flow rate.

Remember that this post does not replace professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider or oxygen supplier before extending your oxygen tubing past the recommended amount.

Oxygen tubing FAQs

What is the maximum length of tubing for an oxygen concentrator?

Most patients can use up to 30m of tubing with their oxygen concentrator without experiencing any negative effects. However, discussing tubing length for long-term oxygen therapy with your doctor is important, especially if you require higher flow oxygen.

Does the length of the oxygen tubing matter?

Oxygen tubing that is too short can hinder movement and keep you tethered closely to your oxygen system. Longer tubing offers more freedom of movement but can reduce the oxygen flow rate in cases where a patient needs high-flow oxygen (4 L/min or greater). In these cases, longer lengths of tubing (30m or greater) may cause a clinically significant decrease in the flow of oxygen.

What is the average tubing length for an oxygen concentrator?

Most medical providers recommend a maximum of 15m of tubing. However, studies have shown that greater lengths of tubing are safe in most cases.

Is long oxygen tubing dangerous?

Overly long oxygen tubing may pose a health risk, especially for patients receiving higher flows of oxygen. Longer oxygen tubing may also interfere with pulse dose machines, which must detect inhalation from the patient before they deliver oxygen — a task that longer tubes may make difficult.
Long tubing also increases the risk of tangles, kinks, trips and related injuries or complications.

How do I increase the length of my oxygen tubing?

It is possible to connect lengths of shorter oxygen tubing to create a long roll. To do this, simply connect one end of the tubing to the oxygen concentrator or cylinder, then connect two or more lengths of oxygen tubing using a swivel connector. Once you’ve reached the desired length, connect your mask or cannula to the end of the tubing.

Mega Medical: Australia’s online medical supply provider

Whether you’re searching for a nasal cannula or additional oxygen tubing, our team at Mega Medical can help. We carry a comprehensive selection of medical supplies, stocking everything from medical gases to oxygen concentrators, medical equipment and consumables.

For any questions or assistance regarding our oxygen supplies or other medical items, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly staff on 1300 881 824.