NICU Basics: Respiratory support


I notion we would write a sequence of posts on ‘NICU Basics’, as there are so many medical terms and strategies to become familiar with. Often, whether you’re having antenatal discussions or are in reality within the NICU, you wonder what on this planet they are talking approximately. Occasionally you might feel they’re taking advantage of your lack of know-how to fob you off or to fail to provide your toddler with appropriate care. So, on this post, we’ll speak approximately the varieties of respiration aid which might be to be had and what they do.

Low-float oxygen

Also referred to as nasal cannula oxygen or certainly oxygen.

This does what it says at the tin: it’s far oxygen piped from a central sanatorium deliver within the NICU and brought to your child, either via a masks (rare in babies) or with the aid of prongs inside the nose (the ‘nasal cannula’). Oxygen is used whilst your baby is breathing independently however is unable to accurately oxygenate themselves, this bipap breathing machine is, they have continual or acute ‘hypoxemia’. This can be observed via low oxygen saturation stages or by way of testing of stages of carbon dioxide and other substances to your toddler’s blood.

Your baby can be on a totally low level of oxygen, inclusive of zero.04 litres according to minute (lpm), or a excessive level like 2 lpm.

Oxygen may be used at home where, instead of the health facility deliver, the oxygen comes from cylinders a good way to be delivered to you or from a tool that ‘concentrates’ oxygen from the air. Many infants with T18 do have oxygen at home, to control or prevent desaturations.

Rumer on low-glide oxygen
Rumer on oxygen

High-float therapy

May be acknowledged via logo names including Vapotherm or Optiflow.

High-flow therapy is delivered via nasal cannula, just like low-go with the flow oxygen. To avoid retention of carbon dioxide (CO2), the cannula must now not take up more than 50% of the nostrils. High-waft works via handing over humidified air to the top airways.

The air is actively blown into the airway (as opposed to certainly being sucked in by means of respiration), and fills up the lifeless area, pushing out vintage air and presenting a regular glide of fresh air. This enables the toddler get oxygen into their airlines and take away CO2, for that reason supporting them ventilate. It additionally offers some stress assist, preventing the air sacs collapsing down after every breath, so the toddler has to paintings less difficult to respire. Unlike CPAP, however, it’s far an open machine in preference to a sealed one, with the emphasis on disposing of antique air and introducing new in preference to keeping a high historical past stress.

Like low-go with the flow oxygen, high-flow therapy is delivered in litres according to minute, commonly somewhere among about three-8 lpm. The gas it affords may be room air (21% oxygen), or if the child needs more, it is able to deliver, say, eight lpm of gas at 35% oxygen.

High-float works very well for plenty babies. The evidence suggests that it’s miles as effective as CPAP, and a few research have even advised it’s miles extra effective. It is nicely worth a attempt if CPAP isn’t running well to your toddler.

High-glide cannot commonly be provided at domestic, however some families have managed to arrange for domestic use whilst their infant needs long term excessive-go with the flow therapy.


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