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Complications while using a Ventilator


Ventilators are an essential part of medical assistance and patient care. Numerous patients dealing with severe injuries and respiratory failure require ventilation for either the short or long term. However, there can be certain complications while using a ventilator. Because there are invasive procedures involved in ventilation that could be complex sometimes. For example, increased pressure levels may affect your lung tissues or can even damage your lungs. Similarly, there are a variety of other complications that may arise while using a ventilator. 

Complications while using a Ventilator

In this article, we will talk about the possible complications of a ventilator. 


Ventilator-associated lung injury:- the medical care providers set and measure the amount, speed, and force of the air that the ventilator pushes and pulls out of your lungs. An increased amount of oxygen in your lungs for a long time can be bad for your lung’s tissues. If your lungs are weak and could not handle that air pressure, it can damage your lungs badly. 

Intubation related complications:- since intubation is done in critically ill patients still sometimes may create severe complications that may arise due to incorrect tube placement, tube dislodgement, severe hypotension severe hypoxia, local trauma to the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and trachea. Also, multiple attempts in intubation increase the chances of complications. 

Pneumothorax:-  it means the collapsed lungs. This condition results due to the holes in your lungs that leak air into the opening between your lungs and the walls of your chest, causing pain and lack of oxygen. In severe conditions can even collapse your lungs, which needs medical support immediately. 

Pulmonary edema:- it’s the accumulation of fluid in your lungs. When we breathe, our lungs get filled with air or oxygen. But in pulmonary edema, they fill with fluid instead. Consequently, the oxygen cannot reach your crucial bloodstream. 

Hypoxemia:-  an oxygen deficiency in your blood can create hypoxemia. It will not only affect your lungs but also your brain and liver within minutes. 

Hypoxemia leads to hypoxia which is low oxygen levels in your tissues. When tissues don’t get enough oxygen, other oxygen will be deprived of oxygen. Hypoxemia can be very critical and needs instantaneous medical support. 

Delirium/acute brain failure:- you are either under general or local anaesthesia while putting on a ventilator. Thus, you are highly sedated during ventilation. At times, the sedative drugs take time to eliminate from your body even after the procedure is completed. 

The person may feel difficulty in reading, writing and thinking properly. Also, a weak memory, sleeping issues, anxiety, can be felt. Though, these symptoms are quite manageable. 

Immobility:– due to high sedation during ventilation, you can’t move much. If the patient has been on a ventilator for a long time, it could lead to bedsores that may cause skin infections. The patient may also cause blood clots due to the same issue. The patient may feel muscle weakness that normally helps in breathing and he may need a respiratory therapist soon. 

Vocal cord issues:- during extubation (removal of endotracheal tube), your vocal cords may damage. There may be some soreness and hoarse sounds at the beginning. But if this problem persists for longer and you feel a problem in breathing and speaking let your doctor know the condition. 

Ventilator-associated pneumonia:- the patients on mechanical breathing may develop a lung infection that resembles pneumonia symptoms. Medically, this condition is known as ventilator-associated pneumonia. During invasive ventilation, microorganisms find their way into the patient’s respiratory tract and cause them pneumonia-like symptoms. 

Barotrauma:- this condition denotes the deterioration of body tissues due to the difference in pressure gradient inside or in contact with the body. Barotrauma results from the continuous over-stretching of the tissues, either by a direct expansion of the gas in closed space or the pressure difference transmitted by the tissue.  

For instance, a ventilation-induced injury that caused due to the over-expansion of the lungs during mechanical ventilation. Similarly, barotrauma can happen in other parts of the body as well such as the middle ear, eyes, skin, genital, etc. 

Atelectrauma:- it is also called repeated alveolar collapse and expansion that is caused by mechanical ventilation under certain conditions. The parts of the lungs collapse after expiration due to having diseased lungs and low residual capacity, which when reopen for inspiration causes stress to the lungs that damage the alveolus. 

Volutrauma:- this condition of lung injury happens when a large volume is used for ventilation of non-compliant lungs. The large volume results in alveolar fractures that result in the movement of fluids and proteins inside alveolar spaces.