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Respir Care. 2011 Jun;56(6):751-60. doi: 10.4187/respcare.00841. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Bench tests of simple, handy ventilators for pandemics: performance, autonomy, and ergonomy.

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Département de Médecine Familiale et Médecine d'Urgence, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.



It has been pointed out that in the wake of a virulent flu strain, patients with survivable illness will die from lack of resources unless more ventilators are made available. Numerous disaster-type ventilators are available, but few evaluations have been performed.


To compare simple, lightweight, and handy ventilators that could be used in the initial care of patients with respiratory distress.


We bench-tested 4 volume-cycled ventilators (Carevent ALS, EPV100, Pneupac VR1, and Medumat Easy) and 2 pressure-cycled ventilators (Oxylator EMX and VAR-Plus). We studied their general physical characteristics, sonometry, gas consumption, technical performance, ergonomy, and user-friendliness. With a test lung we assessed performance at F(IO(2)) of 0.50 and 1.0, set compliance of 30, 70, and 120 mL/cm H(2)O, and set resistance of 5, 10, and 20 cm H(2)O/L/s. To study user-friendliness and ergonomy we conducted, in randomized order, 7 or 8 objective, quantitative tests and 2 subjective tests.


Compliance and resistance strongly affected tidal volume with the pressure-cycled ventilators (from 418 ± 49 mL to 1,377 ± 444 mL with the VAR-Plus, at the lowest pressure level), whereas the volume-cycled ventilators provided a consistent tidal volume in the face of changing test lung characteristics.


We are concerned that the pressure-cycled ventilators did not provide a consistent tidal volume, and under certain conditions the volume delivered would be unsafe (too large or too small). Most of the volume-cycled ventilators proved to be technically efficient and reliable. Their reliability, portability, and ease of use could make them valuable in natural disasters and mass-casualty events.

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