exovent ventilator machine

New ventilator design from UK team cuts costs and avoids intubation

Image credit: exovent

A new type of ventilator that is less invasive and allows patients to be treated away from intensive care units has been developed by a UK charity.

The London-based Exovent has created what it calls a negative pressure ventilator that does not require invasive surgery or anaesthetisation to be used.

The charity was formed in March last year in the early days of the pandemic with the intention to design and build an inexpensive, lightweight ventilator.

The sudden onset of the pandemic left many hospitals lacking enough ventilators to treat the huge influx of patients that they were receiving. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to call on 60 UK manufacturing organisations to try and rapidly make up for the shortfall.

Exovent said that current ventilators and high-flow oxygen devices are “not without their challenges” and may not be suitable for all patients, particularly the elderly.

Its negative pressure ventilator has been designed specifically for Covid-19 patients and its negative pressure design is more like normal breathing than either intubation or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines.

It can be used used non-invasively and oxygen can be delivered in the form of a normal oxygen mask or nasal prongs rather than through a high-flow oxygen device that can put hospital oxygen supplies under pressure.

Patients also remain conscious, can take medication and nutrition by mouth, and can make phone calls.

Exovent CEO Ian Joesbury said: “We are really excited to be unveiling this life-saving system, which is a cutting-edge reinvention of pre-existing technology.

“In the UK I believe this can form part of a longer-term plan to treat Covid-19. As the patient does not need to be anaesthetised it opens up alternative treatment options that may allow more patients to be treated outside of intensive care.”

Dr Malcolm Coulthard, from the Exovent team, said: “From research and findings to date, we firmly believe that the use of negative pressure devices can transform the patient journey for Covid-19 patients and those with pneumonia and other diseases that affect breathing.

“The technology is safe, simple to use and systems could be built and deployed rapidly, in both the UK and overseas. Our recent paper published in the medical journal Anaesthesia demonstrates that the Exovent-19 is twice as efficient as other negative pressure systems.”

According to the team, an Exovent device costs approximately £8,000, making it cheaper than existing positive-pressure devices, which cost around £15,000 for CPAP machines and more than £30,000 for intensive care ventilators.

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