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What is Jet Ventilation?

By Terri Forehand
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Jet ventilation is a high-frequency air delivery system that is characterized by delivering rapid mechanical respirations and controlled pressure exhalations for those in respiratory distress. It is common in hospital settings. It is used for patients of all ages who have a low oxygenation level that does not improve with normal mechanical ventilation settings.

The ventilation system gives a high respiratory rate, usually greater than 60 breaths per minute. It also allows for the delivery of small tidal volumes, which makes the oxygen delivered do a better job of getting to the lung tissue. Jet ventilation is used with premature infants who need respiratory assistance and who might suffer lung damage with a conventional ventilator. It is also used for pediatric trauma patients and for adults suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

Jet ventilation is delivered by a mechanical ventilator designed to provide the rapid breaths described. It has tubing that goes from the machine to the patient by attaching via an adaptor to the endotracheal tube placed in the patient's airway. The jet of oxygen happens for approximately 0.02 of a second and the gas is forced into the lungs under small tidal volumes of pressure. The exhalation period is equally short and can be set to be the same time duration or a few milliseconds longer. The ratio of inhalation to exhalation, the duration and pressure of the jet puffs, and the respiratory rates are all ordered by the physician.

The rapid ventilation is also used during certain surgical procedures because it does not require an airtight seal to be efficient. It allows for sufficient gas exchange and airway assessment when the airway needs surgical intervention. In this case, a trans-laryngeal jet catheter is placed in the neck and into the trachea. Oxygen is puffed through the jet vent at the rapid rate with the smaller tidal volumes and is efficient enough to keep the lungs ventilated.

Low to high oxygen concentrations can be used with jet ventilation. In clinical studies, the outcomes for those who have received jet ventilation are much improved over those who received traditional ventilation in cases of severe respiratory distress. Lung tissue is less damaged and over-distention and hyperinflation of the lungs is avoided.

Not every patient in severe respiratory distress requires the special advantages of jet ventilation. Many patients recover easily after traditional mechanical ventilation and suffer no residual lung damage. Jet ventilation is a good choice for those patients who do not respond well or do not improve in a timely manner with traditional mechanical ventilation. Jet ventilation is another option for the physician to use in making oxygenation of the patient with severe respiratory distress easier to manage.

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