When is mechanical ventilation indicated?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Christopher D Jackson, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Many factors affect the decision to begin mechanical ventilation. Because no mode of mechanical ventilation can cure a disease process, the patient should have a correctable underlying problem that can be resolved with the support of mechanical ventilation. This intervention should not be started without thoughtful consideration because intubation and positive-pressure ventilation are not without potentially harmful effects.

Mechanical ventilation is indicated when the patient's spontaneous ventilation is inadequate to sustain life. In addition, it is indicated as a measure to control ventilation in critically ill patients and as prophylaxis for impending collapse of other physiologic functions. Physiologic indications include respiratory or mechanical insufficiency and ineffective gas exchange.

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