New ventilators for COVID-19 patients built from widely available parts

A new collaboration based in Italy has created a safe and reliable ventilator for COVID-19 patients, built from widely available parts.

As many nations struggle to gather resources, there is increased pressure on scientists to develop ventilators for COVID-19 patients. This has motivated the development of the Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM).

Functionality of the ventilator

The MVM is a reliable and easy to operate ventilator for COVID-19 patients which can be produced quickly on a large scale, using readily available parts. Designed to work in a pressure-controlled mode, the MVM is safe to use for COVID-19 patients, for whom high pressure may cause further damage to the lungs.

The MVM system connects directly to a line of pressurised oxygen, relying on regulation of the flow to deliver oxygen to the patient. The MVM achieves pressure regulation of the end-expiratory cycle by discharging the expiratory flow through a valve which sets the desired minimum positive end-expiratory pressure.

The MVM operations are managed by an electronic system in order to drive the solenoid and proportional values, which is accessible via a touchscreen.

Construction and customisation

The construction of the MVM is relatively simplistic. Assembly is achievable based on a small set of clear instructions, and the controller software for the MVM is open source and available for customisation by end users.

This new ventilator for COVID-19 patients can operate in different modes of ventilation, pressure-controlled ventilation (PCV) and pressure-supported ventilation (PSV), using a simple user interface.

In a new paper published in arXiv, researchers highlight: ‘In the pressure-controlled ventilation (PCV) configuration, the unit will operate the valves in regular cycles. The operator defines the cycle by setting the inspiratory time, PEEP, and respiratory rate. The operator is also required to set the target inspiratory pressure.

‘In pressure-supported ventilation (PSV) mode, the patient triggers the ventilator. Inspiration pressure support is given at a preset constant pressure. The ventilator regulates the pressure during inspiration so that it corresponds to preset values.’



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