We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Medical Ventilator?

By M. DePietro
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A medical ventilator is a machine that helps a person breathe. Medical ventilators, which are also referred to as mechanical ventilators, are used during surgeries that require the patient to be asleep. Medical ventilators are also used when a person has a condition that prevents effective breathing. Various conditions can cause breathing difficulties, including respiratory illnesses, head injuries, cardiac conditions, and drug overdoses.

Air and supplemental oxygen is forced into the lungs through a ventilator. The ventilator helps patients improve oxygen levels in the lungs. It can also help remove carbon dioxide from the lungs and decrease how hard someone has to work to breathe.

Mechanical ventilation can be used to provide complete support, which means the ventilator is doing on the breathing for the patient. It can also be used to assist with breathing. This means the patient is still breathing on his own, but the ventilator is providing some assistance.

Before a person is placed on a medical ventilator, a breathing tube will be inserted into the airway, usually through the mouth. In some cases, a tracheotomy is performed instead. An incision is made in the trachea, and a tracheotomy tube is placed. This is usually done if long-term ventilator support is needed.

Ventilators can be set to different modes, which provide varied levels of support. A respiratory rate and a percentage of oxygen can be set. Mechanical ventilation is most often used in hospitals and can be complex.

The length of time a person stays on a medical ventilator depends on their condition. Patients who are only on a ventilator for surgery are usually extubated, which means the breathing tube and ventilator are removed. People with medical conditions that cause breathing problems may need to stay on a medical ventilator until the condition is treated and breathing improves.

Some individuals may need a mechanical ventilator for the rest of their lives. Conditions such as certain spinal cord injuries and severe brain damage may require continuous mechanical ventilation. Ventilators intended for home use are available.

Although a mechanical ventilator may be needed to save someone’s life, there can be complications. Some complications are caused by the tube in the airway and include damage to the vocal cords and a sinus infection. The ventilator delivers a volume of air and oxygen into the lungs, which may also cause complications, such as oxygen toxicity, injury to the lungs, and a drop in blood pressure.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By JaneAir — On Jun 23, 2011

@strawCake - You're right, those are tough questions to answer. That's why everyone should have a living will and also make their wishes known to family members. Even if you're young and don't think it's relevant it's still an important decision to make.

That being said, portable medical ventilators are quite wonderful. Without them there are a lot of surgeries that just couldn't be done!

By strawCake — On Jun 21, 2011

Medical ventilators are a much needed medical device no doubt about it. But the use of ventilators raises a lot of questions especially is the patient doesn't have any kind of living will.

What if the person doesn't want to spend the rest of their life hooked up to a ventilator as a vegetable? Is it mercy or murder to take them off life support? Should someone who is never going to regain brain function even be placed on life support in the first place?

I don't know many people who are ethically equipped to answer these questions.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.