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The Mechanical Ventilator: Past, Present, and Future

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Abstract:

The use of ventilatory assistance can be traced back to biblical times. However, mechanical ventilators, in the form of negative-pressure ventilation, first appeared in the early 1800s. Positive-pressure devices started to become available around 1900 and today's typical intensive care unit (ICU) ventilator did not begin to be developed until the 1940s. From the original 1940s ventilators until today, 4 distinct generations of ICU ventilators have existed, each with features different from that of the previous generation. All of the advancements in ICU ventilator design over these generations provide the basis for speculation on the future. ICU ventilators of the future will be able to integrate electronically with other bedside technology; they will be able to effectively ventilate all patients in all settings, invasively and noninvasively; ventilator management protocols will be incorporated into the basic operation of the ventilator; organized information will be presented instead of rows of unrelated data; alarm systems will be smart; closed-loop control will be present on most aspects of ventilatory support; and decision support will be available. The key term that will be used to identify these future ventilators will be smart!

Keywords: closed-loop; control; decision; mechanical ventilation; negative-pressure ventilation; support; ventilators

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4187/respcare.01420

Affiliations: Respiratory Care Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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