Mechanical Breathing


Definition: Breathing with the help of a machine. A ventilator is also called a respirator.

Description: A machine that helps a person breaths when he or she is unable to do so on his/her own. For short-term conditions (for example, after surgery) a tube is placed in the mouth or nose, down into the windpipe and attached to a machine that regulates breathing. For a long-term condition (for example, more than a month), a tube may be inserted into the windpipe from the neck where a hole has been surgically created. This procedure is called a tracheostomy.

Benefits: A ventilator may only be needed for a short time until the lungs heal and you can breath on your own. However, some people, particularly those with severe heart and lung conditions, require the ventilator for months, years or for the remainder of their life.

Risk: The nose or mouth tube used during ventilation can be uncomfortable and makes it impossible to eat or speak. Pneumonia and other infections may develop while on a ventilator.


mechanical1This man has had a tube
placed in his lungs to help
him breath.








mechanical2This man is receiving
mechanical ventilation.