A new study has shown that reducing the use of mechanical ventilation has led to positive outcomes for critically ill children. 

The study was led by Queen's University Belfast in collaboration with the University of Birmingham as well as the Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust. 

New UK Study on Reducing Mechanical Ventilation

The new study is considered the "largest trial of its kind," per the University of Birmingham. Called the "Sedation and Weaning in Children" (SANDWICH) trial, the new study involved more than 2,000 doctors and nurses who were trained in the new intervention. 

It is also "the world's largest trial recruiting infants and children in pediatric ICUs," involving more than 10,000 pediatric admissions to 18 ICUs. 

"Mechanical ventilation is a lifesaving therapy but may involve related risks caused by the breathing tube in the mouth and throat; the need for sedative drugs to reduce anxiety and the consequences of remaining confined to a bed. Therefore, carrying out research to explore ways of reducing the time children spend on mechanical ventilation is vital," according to Professor Kevin Morris of the University of Birmingham. 

What the SANDWICH Trial Has Shown 

According to the new study, "an intervention, which involved a greater involvement of nurses, minimizing sedation use, and increasing daily testing to assess the child's readiness to come off the ventilator, significantly reduced the time participants required mechanical ventilation."

In comparison to the usual care that children and infants receive, the intervention cuts down the time children need to be on mechanical ventilators by six hours. This applies to children who are previously expected to be on a ventilator for more than 24 hours. 

For all children in general, ventilation time was reduced by an average of seven hours regardless of the length of time the child was expected to be on a ventilator. 

The findings of the SANDWICH trial have already resulted in changes in practice in two-thirds of the pediatric ICUs in the United Kingdom. 

Related Article: Ventilator Shortage Will Be Addressed By FDA: New Designed Sleep Apnea Retrofit

Mechanical Ventilation in the Time of COVID-19 

Patients on Mechanical Ventilators
(Photo : Mohsen Atayi from Wikimedia Commons)
Coronavirus patients at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran

Mechanical ventilation has become essential ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A mechanical ventilator has been defined by Healthline as "a device that pumps air into the lungs of a person with severe respiratory failure. The air in a ventilator often has a higher percentage of oxygen than room air."

According to the article by Healthline, ventilators are particularly helpful in saving the lines of COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory symptoms. Per the article, around 2.5% of people infected with COVID-19 will need a ventilator. 

With an increase in demand for mechanical ventilators, it's no surprise that companies and even government agencies have turned their attention to making their own ventilators. 

Last year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA made a high-pressure ventilator in just 37 days in an effort to save lives against COVID-19. The Elon Musk-owned Tesla has also unveiled its own ventilator prototype. 

Also Read: COVID-19 Update: Formula One Engineers Developed New Ventilator Device For Patients Who Are Too Frail to Undergo Invasive Ventilation Procedures

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Written by Isabella James

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