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Delayed respiratory depression after use of fentanyl during anaesthesia.

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  • Research Article


Patient Information Series: Mechanical Ventilation Patient Information Series A M E R I C A N T H O R A C I C S O C I E T Y Why are ventilators used? ■ To get oxygen into the lungs and body ■ To help the lungs get rid of carbon dioxide ■ To ease the work of breathing—Some people can breathe but it is very hard. They feel short of breath and uncomfortable. ■ To breathe for a patient who is not breathing because of brain damage or injury (like a coma) or high spinal cord injury or very weak muscles. If a person has had a serious injury or illness that causes breathing effort to stop, a ventilator can be used to help the lungs breathe until the person recovers. How does a ventilator work? The ventilator is connected to the patient through a tube (endotracheal or ET tube) that is placed into the mouth or nose and down into the windpipe. When the doctor places the ET tube into the patient’s windpipe, it is called intubation. Some patients have a surgical hole placed in their neck and a tube (tracheostomy or “trach” tube) is connected through that hole. The trach tube is able to stay in as long as needed and is more secure than an ET tube. At times a person can talk with a trach tube in place by using a special adapter called a speaking valve. The ventilator blows gas (air plus oxygen as needed) into a person’s lungs. It can help a person by doing all of the breathing or just assisting the patient’s breathing. The ventilator can deliver higher levels of oxygen than delivered by a mask or other devices. The ventilator can provide a pressure (PEEP pressure) which helps hold the lungs open so the air sacs don’t collapse. The tube in the windpipe makes it easier to remove mucus if someone has a weak cough. How are patients on ventilators monitored? Anyone on a ventilator in an ICU setting will be hooked up to a monitor that measures heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation (“sats”). Other tests that may be done include chest-x-rays and blood drawn to measure oxyge

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