Burns can affect different parts of the body in different ways. Some patients will not be able to breathe on their own and may need the help of a breathing machine (mechanical ventilator).
Mechanical ventilator: can be defined as a device that is designed to help the patient to breathe simply by moving air into and out of the lungs.
Mechanical ventilators may be used in diseases, conditions, or factors that interfere with or impair breathing such as:
- Burn injuries: some burn patients may need to be hooked to a mechanical ventilator depending on the cause and the severities of injury eg, in some smoke inhalation injuries.
- Infections eg, pneumonia.
- Lung diseases eg chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
- Conditions that affect the nerves or muscles involved in breathing such as injury to the upper part of spinal cord, polio.
- Damage to the brain's respiratory center, stroke, coma.
A mechanical ventilator may be used during surgery when general anesthesia is needed.
The mechanical ventilator system is composed of a machine (ventilator) that pushes air or mixture of other gases such as air and oxygen under a positive pressure to the lungs, the air may be delivered through:
- A nasal or a face mask.
- An endotracheal tube: a tube placed in the wind pipe (trachea) through the nose or mouth, this is used for patients who need the ventilator for a shorter period of time.
- A trach tube: which is a tube inserted directly into the trachea through an opening created in the trachea by a surgical procedure called a tracheostomy; this is used when the patient needs the ventilator for a longer period of time.