Two physicians have modified a standard respirator machine to provide prolonged, promptly-responsive, assisted ventilation for infants with hyaline membrane disease.
The objective, E. Warner Ahlgren, MD, told the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Philadelphia, is to allow the infant time to develop surfactant and establish more normal surface tensions to decrease the work of breathing.
Working originally at Duke University Medical Center, C. R. Stephen, MD, and Dr. Ahlgren—both of whom now are in Dallas—consulted with (Bird Corp.) engineers to modify a (Mark 8 Bird) respirator with micro controls and a double-jet, bi-directional venturi exhalation valve.
The adapted controls permit more exact adjustments and the modified valve allows rapid change in flow direction of inspired and expired gases through a tube into the infant's trachea.
To date, Dr. Ahlgren said, the device has been used with six infants, several of whom weighed less than 1,000 grams at birth. The largest