WEDNESDAY, May 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — A prototype for a low-cost, noninvasive ventilator, built using off-the-shelf materials available via e-commerce, performs similarly to a high-quality commercial device, according to a report published online April 20 in the European Respiratory Journal.

Onintza Garmendia, from the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues tested a ventilator built using off-the-shelf materials available via e-commerce, which was based on a high-pressure blower, two pressure transducers, and an Arduino Nano controller with a digital display (total retail cost, <$75), with construction details provided for free replication. The ventilator was assessed and compared to a commercially available device in a bench test involving an actively breathing patient simulator mimicking a range of obstructive/restrictive disease and in 12 healthy volunteers mimicking obstructive/restrictive patients.

The researchers found that the ventilator provided inspiratory/expiratory pressures up to 20/10 cmH20, respectively. In both the bench test and in volunteers, there was no faulty triggering or cycling. The breathing difficulty score rated by the loaded breathing patients decreased significantly, from 5.45 ± 1.68 without support to 2.83 ± 1.66 with use of the prototype ventilator, which was no different from the commercial device (2.80 ± 1.48).

“This low-cost device may enable provision of respiratory support to patients in low/middle income countries who otherwise would have no access to this potentially lifesaving therapy, as well as escalation of ventilatory support availability in strenuous circumstances such as those imposed by respiratory virus pandemics,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to ResMed.

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