Spectacular progress has been made in the application of new technology in the designing of equipment for mechanical ventilation. This technology has made accurate measurements possible without altering the main function of the ventilator. These improvements have made the equipment not only better on ventilatory support but also infinitely safer. In recent years bioengineers have been studying the equipment we use (Hill and Dolan 1982; Cook and Webster 1982; Ward 1985). The incorporation of measurement systems in ventilators has presented a paradox in that we know more about the pulmonary functional state of a patient when connected to a ventilator than when breathing spontaneously. A simple parameter such as the minute volume is difficult to ascertain continuously in patients with acute respiratory failure who are not connected to a ventilator. Pulmonary compliance is inaccessible initially in such an acute patient in intensive care, but the calculation of both parameters becomes extremely simple once the patient is attached to a ventilator.
KeywordsMechanical Ventilation Tidal Volume Acute Respiratory Failure Pulmonary Compliance Inspiratory Muscle Strength
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