A Short Guide for Mechanical Ventilators: Definition, Types, and Uses
A medical ventilator can be lifesaving equipment for people who face difficulty in breathing. Here’s everything you need to know about mechanical ventilators, their uses, and why they are highly in-demand during COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
The use of mechanical ventilators can be traced back to the biblical era. The enhancement and continuous advancements as well as prolonged clinical applications of mechanical ventilators have been the significant factors in the evolution of respiratory care techniques and critical care treatments. Without a doubt, the development and augmented efficiency of mechanical ventilators counterparts the advances in the respiratory treatment processes.
What is Mechanical Ventilation?
Mechanical ventilation is a treatment that helps people breathe normally when they face difficulty in breathing or are unable to respire on their own. A device called mechanical ventilator is used in this treatment which pushes airflow into the person’s lungs and helps him/her in breathing.
Basically, a ventilator controls the body's breathing process in the case of an occurrence of a disease that harms the normal functioning of the lungs. This device helps the patient to breathe while combating the disease, until he/she fully recovers.
What are the Different Types of Mechanical Ventilation?
- Positive-pressure ventilation:
In this type, the air is pushed inside the lungs. Positive-pressure ventilators are used for blowing the air into the person’s lungs through a tube. The ventilators used may be invasive or noninvasive.
- Negative-pressure ventilation:
In this type, the air is sucked from the lungs by expanding and contracting the chest. Negative pressure ventilators are used in this type; however, they have now become outdated and are rarely used at present.
There are two types of mechanical ventilation treatments:
- Invasive ventilation: In this method, a tube is inserted into the patient’s airway. This treatment is done in the intensive care unit in the hospital. Invasive ventilation can be done in two methods:
- Endotracheal intubation: In this method, the tube is inserted into the person’s airway (trachea) through the nose or mouth.
- Tracheostomy: In this method, the tube is inserted through a hole made into the airway.
- Noninvasive ventilation: In this method, no tube is inserted into the patient’s airway. A noninvasive mechanical ventilator comes with a mask and can be used at home by people facing issues in breathing.
There are 3 types of noninvasive ventilation:
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): In this method, constant and steady air pressure is delivered.
- Autotitrating (adjustable) positive airway pressure (APAP): In this method, the air pressure keeps changing with respect to the breathing pattern.
- Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP): In this method, air with different pressures for inhalation and exhalation is delivered.
When is a Mechanical Ventilator Used?
Mechanical ventilators can be used by babies, children, and adults for a short period of time while recovering from a disease or other issues. Here are some examples:
- At the time of surgery. A ventilator can carry out breathing functions during surgery when the patient is under general anesthesia.
- While recovering from surgery. Sometimes patients require a ventilator to help them breathe for a few hours or even days after surgery.
- Difficulty in breathing. A ventilator can help a patient in breathing if he/she has a lung disease or another condition that causes problems in normal breathing.
Some conditions that may need the use of a ventilator are:
- Coma or loss of consciousness
- Drug overdose
- Brain injury
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Collapsed lung
- Myasthenia gravis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Upper spinal cord injuries
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Lung infection
- Premature lung development (in babies)
Are Mechanical Ventilators Used in Treatment for COVID-19 Coronavirus?
COVID-19 disease can cause fluids and mucus in the lungs and block the oxygenation of lung tissue. Mechanical ventilators act as a breathing support for COVID-19 patients until their immune system gets stronger, their infection gets clear with the treatment and medication, and proper lung function is restored. For patients with higher levels of infection, a ventilator can provide the best chance of recovery.
During the COVID-19 pandemic period, the government bodies of all nations are striving to purchase thousands of ventilators to help ease the pressure on hospitals caused by the COVID-19 disease. As per a report by Research Dive, the North America mechanical ventilator market is expected to witness significant growth in the upcoming years. In the course of this crisis period, the demand for mechanical ventilators is skyrocketing and might undergo increased demand in the future as well.