Scientists have developed an inexpensive ventilator with minimal training that they believe could help save lives in the event of a second wave of coronavirus.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow started working on the design during the early stages of the UK virus epidemic in mid-March, when demand for ventilators was expected to outstrip supply.
Fortunately, the provision of a ventilator proved to be adequate, but the team behind the new device thinks that it would be precious if the cases rose again.
They said the manufacturing of the low-cost device, called GlasVent, could easily be expanded and could be used in healthcare settings and the developing world.
The main component is a pocket valve mask – a portable device similar to a balloon that is already commonly used in emergency medical situations.
Doctors press the device by hand to pass air through a tube, which helps inflate patients’ lungs and maintain oxygen circulation.
The team developed a way to automate bag compression, allowing doctors to focus on other aspects of care and to normalize the supply of oxygen to patients’ lungs.
The device uses a microcontroller to control pressure and oxygen flow as well as a 3D printed sliding crank.
In the event of a power failure, the simple design of the crank allows doctors to operate it by hand, which helps keep the patient alive.
Professor Ravinder Dahiya of the University of Glasgow and a team of engineers from his group Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies have developed three variants of the device, ranging from a fully manual option costing £ 35 to build to a version powered by battery with a cost of parts of £ 135.
Professor Dahiya said: “When the severity of the coronavirus pandemic began to become clear, my research group and I were keen to do everything we could to save lives.
“We are proud to have successfully moved from design to construction through testing in a matter of weeks.
“We have already carried out many successful tests on a medical mannequin fitted with artificial lungs, supplied by the Royal Alexandra Hospital Paisley, so we are convinced that it is suitable for the intended use.
“We hope that once we receive regulatory approval, GlasVent could be used not only to save a little more time for critically ill patients, either to fight the disease or to be placed under a mechanical ventilator, but to find use in healthcare settings and in developing countries. world.
“While other groups around the world have developed other designs for automated emergency ventilators, we believe that GlasVent is the only one that offers fully manual control and requires little training or medical experience to operate.
“This makes it ideal for providing life-saving assistance in places where access to electricity is unreliable and for use in almost all emergency situations where ventilation is required.”