Purpose of Mechanical Ventilation Machines.

In the year 2020, one of the most commonly used term in the medical field is definitely the ventilator. This has made it popular worldwide but still, most of us have no idea what the machine is or what it does. We're about to change that story, because we are breaking it down for you to understand it.



A ventilator or a respirator is a machine that supports or replaces breathing.  It is also known as mechanical or assisted ventilation, is the referring to artificial ventilation where mechanical means are used to assist spontaneous breathing. The purpose of the machine is not to fix the cause of the problem, but rather to help you breathe when you cannot breathe on your own.


There are two types of mechanical ventilation.

This kind of respiration assistance is divided into two categories in reference to function; non invasive and invasive.

*Non-invasive mechanical ventilation. These machines are commonly used at home for patients wit sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)  among others. The non-invasive ventilator helps you breathe by pushing air through a mask that is placed over your nose and mouth. Straps keep the mask in place. A machine pushes air and oxygen through the mask, and the pressure of the air helps you breathe. They include the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and the BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure).

*Invasive mechanical ventilation. If you've been to an ICU ward then it is very likely you have come across these machines with multiple tubings. These are the invasive ventilators and are commonly found in hospital settings used for commercial purposes. The machine pushes air and oxygen into your lungs through a tube in your windpipe. The tube goes through your mouth or nose, or through an opening that has been made in your throat, through your windpipe to your lungs. Today, we'll talk about these kind of ventilators.


The Roman physician Galen first used mechanical breathing in the 2nd century by blowing air into the larynx of a dead animal using a reed. In 1929, was the Drinker and Shaw tank-type ventilator, also known as the iron lung was the first negative-pressure machines widely used. This metal cylinder completely engulfed the patient up to the neck. A vacuum pump created negative pressure in the chamber, which resulted in expansion of the patient's chest. This change in chest geometry allowed ambient air to flow into the patient's lungs. When the vacuum was terminated, the negative pressure applied to the chest dropped to zero.

What is the purpose of ventilators?

Ventilators are the most used machines in the ICU wards in hospitals. They are used so as to allow the patient time to heal. Usually, as soon as a patient can breathe effectively on their own, they are taken off the mechanical ventilator.


How the Machine Works;

Firstly, ventilators don't cause pain as well as eliminate extra labor during breathing for those with shortness of breathe or trouble breathing. What they do is cause discomfort because the patient can't feed on their own. Therefore, they get nutrients by having it from a tube inserted in their vein. In severe cases, it might be through feeding pipes. Caregivers do their best to ensure the process is smooth and enough nutrients are given to the patient.

In this process, a ventilator brings oxygen to the lungs and taking carbon dioxide out of the lungs.. It can be inserted through the mouth or nose, and down the trachea, or through a surgical opening, via tracheostomy. This allows a patient who has trouble breathing to receive the proper amount of oxygen.

The caregivers control the amount of oxygen the patient receives. If the patient’s condition is particularly delicate, the monitor will be set up to send an alarm to the caregiver indicating an increase in air pressure.

Therefore, from these illustrations we can sum up the purpose of the ventilation machine. These include; to deliver high concentrations of oxygen into the lungs, to help get rid of carbon dioxide. In addition to that, to decrease the amount of energy a patient uses on breathing so their body can concentrate on fighting infection or recovering. To breathe for a person who is not breathing because of injury to the nervous system, or who has very weak muscles. Another purpose is to breathe for a patient who is unconscious because of a severe infection, build up of toxins, or drug overdose.


Sub-Categories of Ventilators

For those that have seen the ventilators in the ICU wards, you know how the machines look like. These ventilators are usually voluminous they are and occupy quite an amount of space. They are stationary and mostly used for commercial purposes. Sometimes patients need to be discharged from hospital but would need to be on invasive ventilation. Due to reasons such as cost-friendliness or travel purposes while on ventilation, there have been user-friendly machines in the market. The portable ventilators are easy to move around with, easy to use and helpful in assisting patients in need of support while breathing.

A portable ventilation machine


Some people have been wondering whether intubation is the same thing as ventilation. Well, intubation is placing a tube in your throat to help move air in and out of your lungs. Mechanical ventilation is the use of a machine to move air in and out of your lungs.


Risks of Mechanical Ventilation

Ventilation or respirator machines are effective in assisting one to breathe but one main risk is infection as the artificial airway (breathing tube) may allow germs to enter the lung. It will increase the longer mechanical ventilation is needed and is highest around two weeks. Another risk is lung damage caused by either over inflation or repetitive opening and collapsing of the small air sacs - alveoli) of the lungs. Sometimes, patients are unable to be weaned off of a ventilator and may require prolonged support. When this occurs, they undergo tracheotomy whereby the tube is removed from the mouth and changed to a smaller airway in the neck.



https://www.ethics.va.gov/LST/MechanicalVentilationInformation.pdf - Information for Patients and Families About mechanical ventilation

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/304068-overview - MedScape on clinical procedures

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15368-mechanical-ventilation - Risks of ventilator machines.

https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/mechanical-ventilation.pdf - American Thoracic Society on patient education



Kindly share your thoughts, questions or experiences with the ventilators with us on the comment section.

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