COVent – Improve Ventilation Safety by Means of Intra-Tracheal Pressure Monitoring – A Short-term Solution

The researchers involved in this project developed a novel intra-tracheal pressure monitoring system. The device works in conjunction with a modified ventilator controller. These developments provide a practical solution to reduce the risks associated with the mechanical ventilation of patients suffering from respiratory failure (a common complication of COVID-19).

Respiratory Failure in COVID-19

One of the severe complications associated with COVID-19 infection is respiratory failure. This life-threatening condition results from inadequate gas exchange by the respiratory system. Mechanical ventilation is often used in clinical settings to restore normal oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood and thereby treat this condition.

During mechanical ventilation, accurately monitoring and controlling the airflow pressures applied to lung tissue is critically important, as failure to do so can cause lung injuries. The pressures applied during mechanical ventilation are measured in the ventilator or breathing circuit. Mathematical formulae are used to estimate the pressure in the large airways such as the trachea so that the pressures applied can be adjusted accordingly. Under some conditions these estimations are inaccurate. This can lead to lung and airway injuries.

Developing a New Method to Measure Intra-tracheal Pressure

The team of researchers involved in this research project developed a method to reliably measure intra-tracheal pressure by integrating sensors onto the tip of standard endotracheal tubes, avoiding reliance on potentially flawed mathematical formulae. Furthermore, they modified a ventilator controller to use the intra-tracheal pressure as measured by the sensor as an input signal.

Tests carried out to date show that the developed monitoring system provides more accurate pressure measurements than traditional formulae-based approaches. The researchers are carrying out further testing of the system, paving the way for use in clinical settings. These developments have the potential to transform the way in which air pressures are monitored in the airways during mechanical ventilation, thereby reducing the risk of injury and associated infection for patients who require mechanical ventilation.

Banner image above: Researchers measure pathophysiological lung parameters in a long simulator ventilated using a low-cost ventilator. Pressure measurements, visualised on the computer screen, enable safety assessment of the ventilator. Image: Kiran Kuruvithadam.

Back to Overview

Lead Researchers