Conventional mechanical ventilators are the go-to method when patients in severe respiratory distress need help breathing. As things stand, there’s an unprecedented demand around the world for ventilators to help patients acutely affected by COVID-19. Materialise, a leader in custom 3D manufacturing, has now developed and is moving through regulatory approval a technology that can provide positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) to the lungs without the use of a true ventilator.
The technology, designed with the help of pulmonologists, consists of a PEEP valve, a mask, and a filter. The patient wears a tightly fitted mask and the system needs only a source of oxygen to produce sufficient pressure to help a patient breathe. While it may not alleviate the need for a true ventilator during the most acute cases, it may serve as a bridge for those patients that need some pressure in addition to pure oxygen. Patients wearing this kind of a mask don’t spread germs while the approach remains non-invasive, both features that are beneficial during the ongoing epidemic.
“It’s a very compact design,” said Jan Van Espen, an engineers at Materialise, in a press release. “We have an oxygen supply for the patients and through the one-way inhalation valve we can take in extra ambient air. We have a filter to minimize aerial contamination with respect to the COVID virus, and we have an adjustable PEEP valve which is the positive pressure for the patients.”