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Ventilators and Respirators

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Patients who have lost their ability to breathe independently, either temporarily or indefinitely, may be in need of a respirator for a specific time period or until the end of their life. The various respirators intended for this are presented below.


Ventilators can be operated by a microprocessor or pneumatically. Pneumatic devices can sometimes still be found in ambulances. There are different types of respirators depending on where they are used and operated, but newer models will always have a display.

Types of Respirators

The choice between invasive or non-invasive ventilators is based not on the location but rather on the specific characteristics and condition of the patient. Respiratory equipment is useful in home ventilation, in cases of emergency and transport, and above all in hospital intensive and surgical care units. With both emergency and home respirators, there should always be a resuscitation bag close at hand in order to keep the gas exchange going in case of emergency.

Intensive Care Respirators

Intensive care respirators have many settings and monitoring features in order to offer patients the best care possible. Through measuring and evaluating various parameters, some models are designed to be able to recognize and register even the slightest breathing effort of a patient. Weaning off of the ventilator is only possible with intensive care ventilation machines. Today, oxygen is mostly provided through wall connections. Oygen-filled steel or aluminum tanks are used seldom or in emergency situations.

Emergency Respirators

Emergency respirators are used mainly in ambulances during patient transfers and transportation. They are robust and compact. Because they are not intended for permanent ventilation, most devices offer few or no customization options and can only slightly be adjusted to the individual patient. Because of that, emergency respirators are not suitable for use by patients who are in need of differentiated ventilation, as even a short-term change in ventilation can cause devastating consequences for the gas exchange. The use of these respirators is not recommended for toddlers and infants.

Home Respirators

These devices are used when a hospital stay is no longer necessary for patients requiring mechanical ventilation. As these are technologically simpler to use, patients and their relatives are able to make adjustments themselves. The dimensions of home respirators are very compact so as not to crowd or restrict patients. It is also helpful that home respirators can be separated from the power supply and switched to battery mode. Home respirators can be adjusted to the patient to ensure the best home care possible. Wall connections for oxygen or compressed air are not necessary.

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Olivier Falk-Rønne
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