Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Doctors develop life-saving, low-cost ventilators for emergency, rural and military use

Date:
January 30, 2010
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Anesthetists have designed three prototype low-cost ventilators that could provide vital support during major health care emergencies involving large numbers of patients, such as pandemics, and where resources are limited, such as in developing countries, remote locations or by the military. The team says it is possible to make simple ventilators that could be mass-produced for crises where there is an overwhelming demand for mechanical ventilation and a limited oxygen supply.

A group of UK anaesthetists have designed and tested three prototype low-cost ventilators that could provide vital support during major healthcare emergencies involving large numbers of patients or casualties. The devices, detailed in a paper published online by Anaesthesia, could also be used where resources are limited, such as in developing countries, remote locations or by the military.

"Our research has demonstrated that it is possible to make a gas-efficient ventilator costing less than 200, for use where 2-4 bar oxygen is available, with no pressurised air or electrical requirements" says consultant anaesthetist Dr John Dingley from Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

"Such a device could be mass-produced for crises where there is an overwhelming demand for mechanical ventilation and a limited oxygen supply."

Problems with limited oxygen supply date back to the First World War when medical professionals had to deal with the large numbers of casualties affected by poison gas.

"The physiologist J S Haldane developed a delivery system that provided a high flow of oxygen from a modest fresh gas flow" says Dr Dingley, who is also a Reader in Anaesthetics at Swansea University.

"Modern equipment has become so sophisticated that we have, in some ways, lost sight of the basic principles that can be adopted in emergency healthcare situations.

"So our aim was to extend Haldane's concept of maximally efficient oxygen delivery to include pneumatic gas-powered ventilator designs.

"The initial design was envisaged as a ventilator for difficult environments, especially military scenarios, where large oxygen cylinders would be impractical, or in short supply, and electrical power would be unavailable.

"This led to two variants that are suited to emergency construction in bulk for mass deployment prior to a respiratory failure pandemic or other major healthcare situation."

All three designs operate on the principle that the energy is taken from approximately 1 l.min-1 compressed oxygen at a supply pressure of 2-4 bar to provide the motive force to ventilate the lungs.

"After the stored energy has been used to provide motive power in this way, the waste oxygen -- which is now at atmospheric pressure -- is then re-used to enrich the air being drawn into the ventilator before it is delivered to the lungs" explains Dr Dingley.

"In this way, most of the breathable oxygen is obtained from ambient air."

A mechanical test lung was used to test the three devices and this showed that they would provide effective ventilation for patients who were unable to breathe unaided. The devices were also tested over a range of lung volumes and compliances, which indicated that the oxygen consumption was considerably lower than that of the commercially available gas powered ventilators currently on the market.

This means that even if the devices had to be used over an extended period of time, they would use less than conventional units. They would also provide a viable and financially attractive alternative to buying extra critical care ventilators, which are expensive, complex microprocessor-driven devices.

"These devices could be used anywhere that 2-4 bar oxygen is available, such as a converted ward with no piped air or electricity" says Dr Dingley. "In extreme circumstances, they could even run on hospital compressed air, using very little air from the hospital's compressor reservoir.

"The concept, although unconventional, also allows an attending staff member to take over manual ventilation of the patient, with air if necessary, if a hospital's pneumatic mechanism or gas supply fails.

"The mechanism could possibly be made as a single-use device and stockpiled for crises where there is an overwhelming demand for mechanical ventilation, such as a pandemic."

Dr Dingley points out that major healthcare emergencies can call for creative solutions and that these can often be unorthodox.

For example during the 1952 Copenhagen polio epidemic, relays of medical students manually ventilated the lungs of patients with tracheostomies under the guidance of the anaesthetist. And in Beijing in 2003, trainees from unrelated specialties found themselves managing a sealed intensive therapy unit filled with avian flu victims, while receiving clinical guidance from overseas experts via a mobile phone.

"Health services are not designed to cope with the most extreme situations and fast, easy solutions can quite literally save lives" says Dr Dingley. "We feel that the low oxygen consumption pneumatic ventilators we have designed and tested could provide a low-cost, speedy solution in a crisis. They could also be used for a wide range of applications, such as rural healthcare and armed conflicts."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Williams et al. A low oxygen consumption pneumatic ventilator for emergency construction during a respiratory failure pandemic. Anaesthesia, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2009.06207.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Doctors develop life-saving, low-cost ventilators for emergency, rural and military use." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100125094643.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2010, January 30). Doctors develop life-saving, low-cost ventilators for emergency, rural and military use. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100125094643.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Doctors develop life-saving, low-cost ventilators for emergency, rural and military use." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100125094643.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins