What are the differences between critical care volume ventilators and specialty ventilators for noninvasive ventilation (NIV)?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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The choice of ventilators available to provide noninvasive ventilatory support has continued to expand. Early noninvasive ventilatory support was applied using either large bedside critical care volume ventilators or smaller volume or pressure specialty ventilators devoted to noninvasive ventilation. While the critical care ventilators had more options, they were also less tolerant of leaks. The specialty ventilators had fewer options and range, but they were more leak tolerant.

Many critical care ventilators currently in use also have a noninvasive ventilation option, either as part of the original device or available as an upgrade option. The ideal device is dependent on a number of factors, including familiarity by staff and available options. The differences between the bedside critical care ventilator and specialty noninvasive ventilator continue to diminish as differences related to ventilator options, range of support, and leak tolerance are corrected in both devices. The distinction in function and capability has blurred, and there are devices that are capable of providing both invasive and noninvasive ventilation with a mere switch of ventilator settings. Nevertheless, most hospitals continue to provide noninvasive support with the specialty ventilator.

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