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Indications for mechanical ventilation 

Indications for mechanical ventilation
Indications for mechanical ventilation

Neil R. MacIntyre

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date: 21 February 2020

Mechanical ventilation is indicated when the patient’s ability to ventilate the lung and/or effect gas transport across the alveolar capillary interface is compromised to point that harm is imminent. In practice, this means addressing one or more of three fundamental pathophysiological processes—loss of proper ventilatory control, ventilatory muscle demand-capability imbalances, and/or loss of alveolar patency. A fourth general indication involves providing a positive pressure assistance to allow tolerance of an artificial airway in the patient unable to maintain a patent and protected airway. The decision to initiate mechanical ventilation usually involves an integrated assessment that should include mental status, airway protection capabilities, ventilatory muscle load tolerance, spontaneous ventilatory pattern, and signs of organ dysfunction from either acidosis and/or hypoxaemia. Providing mechanical ventilatory assistance can be life-sustaining, but it is associated with significant risk, including ventilator-induced lung injury, infection, and need for sedatives/paralytics, and must be applied only when indications justify the risk.

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