Most doctors who work in the intensive care unit (ICU) will spend a lot of time utilizing ventilators throughout their careers. They will be looking at the screens, making minor changes, talking about them, and being grateful that they exist. Because doctors and nurses in the ICU will spend so much time working with the machines, it’s surprising how little attention is paid to how the machines work. Every machine has more to it than just knowing how to turn it on and make adjustments. If you know what the main parts of a mechanical ventilator are, you’ll have a better idea of what it does, how it does it, and how to help the doctor use it better.
What is a Ventilator?
A ventilator is a piece of medical equipment that mechanically ventilates a patient who is physically unable to breathe or who is not living enough by transferring breathable air into and out of the lungs. However, patients can also be vented using a straightforward, manually operated bag valve mask. Ventilators are computerized microprocessor-controlled devices. Ventilators are primarily utilized in anesthesia, home care, emergency medicine, and intensive care medicine (independent devices) (as a component of an anesthesia machine).
Sometimes ventilators are referred to as “respirators,” a word that was frequently used for them in the 1950s (particularly the “Bird respirator”). But in a modern hospital and medical jargon, the term “respirator” really refers to a face mask that shields users from dangerous airborne contaminants.
Parts of Ventilator Machine
Four main parts make up a mechanical ventilator: the power source, the controls, the safety features, and the monitors.
- The Source of Power
The power used to keep the machine running and the gas rushing to the patient is the power source. Ventilators are powered by electricity from a wall outlet and a series of backup batteries. The gas that is being pumped to the patient is, of course, oxygen, which allows them to breathe.
- Machine Control
Like any other machine, the machine has control systems that the doctor or nurse can use to run it. Ventilators have a lot of controls that each performs different functions. They also have gas mixers, gas storage tanks, flow regulators, humidifiers, and pressure regulators. All of them carry out something important for the health of the patient. Flow and pressure regulators control how fast and how much the gas flows so that the doctor can set the rate and pressure of the gas and the machine will keep it at the desired level.
- The Monitor
The monitors sense and show the doctor how the gas is being delivered, so the doctor can judge how well the machine is working. The doctor can look at the monitors to make sure that the parameters are being maintained and that the patient is doing well. The flow of the gases that keep the patient alive is the main thing doctors look at.
- Safety Features
The safety features of a ventilator are there to keep the patient alive even if something terrible happens. Some alarms go off if the machine loses power or if the pressure level drops, so the staff can know what’s going on. Most of the time, the features include emergency backups in case the power goes out.
Types of Ventilators
- Mechanical Ventilator
Mechanical ventilators are machines that do everything connected to breathing. When a person can’t breathe on their own, a doctor will use one of these. They work by pumping air into a person’s lungs and taking carbon dioxide out of the body through a tube in their throat. A doctor or respiratory therapist can set the controls on a ventilator so that the pressure, humidity, volume, and temperature of the air are just right. This lets doctors and nurses control a person’s breathing and level of oxygen. If a person is very sick and suffering from breathing issues, they may need a machine to help them breathe.
- Manual Resuscitator Bags
Manual resuscitator bags are pieces of equipment that let people use their hands to control how much air is coming out of their ventilator. The “bladder” of these devices is an empty bag that a person squeezes to get air into their lungs. One of these devices can be attached to a face mask ventilator or, if a person is intubated, then the doctor can attach one to a tube in their throat. This can help if a person on a mechanical ventilator needs to stop using it for a brief duration. For instance, if the power goes out, a person can use a manual resuscitation bag until the power comes back on.
- Ventilator for Tracheostomy
People who have had a tracheostomy will need a machine to help them breathe. During a tracheostomy, a doctor cuts a hole in the windpipe and puts in a tube, which lets air go in and out. This lets a person breathe without having to use their mouth or nose. Through this opening, people who have had a tracheostomy can also get help from a ventilator. Doctors don’t put a ventilator in through the mouth. Instead, they put it right into the windpipe. Tracheostomies may be needed for people who need mechanical ventilation for a long time and need more time to get better. Some people may need tracheostomies for a long time if they have chronic lung disease or a neuromuscular disorder that makes their breathing muscles weak. Some people can take care of their tracheostomies at home on their own.
Working Principle of A Ventilator
A ventilator forces air into the lungs by putting pressure on them. Positive pressure is the name for this kind of pressure. Most of the time, a patient lets out air on their own, but sometimes the ventilator helps them. A monitor that is connected to the ventilator can be used to change how much oxygen the patient gets. If the patient’s health is very weak, the monitor can be set to send an alarm to the caretaker when the air pressure goes up.
The machine works by putting oxygen in the lungs and taking out carbon dioxide. This makes it possible for a person who is having trouble breathing to get the right amount of oxygen. It also helps the patient’s body heal by taking away the extra energy that comes from having to breathe hard. Through a breathing tube, a ventilator blows air into the airway. The end of the tube that goes into the patient’s windpipe is connected to the ventilator. The breathing tube lets air and oxygen from the ventilator flow into the lungs and acts as an airway. Depending on the patient’s health, they might be able to use a breathing mask instead of tubes.
Advantages of the Ventilator Machine
Here are the main benefits of mechanical ventilation:
- The person doesn’t have to work as hard to breathe because the muscles in their lungs can rest.
- The patient has been given time to recover in the hopes that his or her breathing will return to normal.
- Gives the patient enough oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide.
- Keeps the airway open and stops injuries from aspiration.
- It gives the patient a chance to be stable while the medicines and treatments help them get better.
Limitations of the Ventilator
Ventilators don’t have many limitations, but they can cause some infections.
- The breathing tube in your airway could let in bacteria that infect the small air sacs in the walls of your lungs. Plus, the tube makes it harder to cough up the debris that could irritate your lungs and cause an infection.
- . Putting someone on a ventilator is especially dangerous because they may already be very sick when they do it. Your other illness may be harder to treat if you have VAP.
- You can get VAP even if you already have an infection, like a viral infection of your lungs. This is what the doctors call a “superinfection.”
- It can even damage your lungs causing a severe lung infection.
Applications of Ventilator
Patients of all ages, including babies, kids, and adults, may need a medical ventilator while getting better from illness or other problems.
While a person is under general anesthesia and having surgery, a ventilator can help them breathe for a short time. During the hours or even days after surgery, a patient may need a ventilator to help them breathe. A ventilator can help a person breathe if they have lung disease or another illness that makes it hard or impossible for them to breathe on their own.
Doctors and nurses can take steps to make these problems less likely to happen. These are the steps:
- Keeping a close eye on people on ventilators for signs of problems.
- Adjusting the air pressure and oxygen levels to match a patient’s normal levels.
- Wearing personal protective equipment to protect against viruses and stop them from spreading to others.
- Treating bacterial infections with antibiotics.
- Making sure patients get physical and pulmonary rehabilitation after they leave the ICU.
Being weaned off of a ventilator can be a lengthy process. Both physical and emotional health can be affected by a serious disease. Medical advice should be sought by those who continue to experience symptoms after being weaned off from ventilator support.