- Exovent was modelled on the ‘iron lung’ used to battle 20th century polio crisis
- Device said to be more comfortable, cheaper and needs fewer staff to manage
- The device has already successfully been tested on six healthy adults
British experts have designed a new type of ventilator that may allow more patients with severe Covid-19 to be treated outside of intensive care, easing pressure on hospitals hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
The pandemic has put immense pressure on the NHS, with figures from earlier this month showing how the number of coronavirus patients in hospital was almost twice the level during the darkest days of the first wave last year.
The researchers said that their device, known as exovent, is more comfortable for the patient, cheaper than those currently being used in intensive care units (ICU), and requires fewer staff to manage it.
Exovent is a negative pressure ventilator – which means it works by lowering the pressure outside the body to allow lung tissue to expand and function in a way that resembles normal breathing.
The device, which is modelled on the ‘iron lung’ used to battle the polio crisis in the 20th century, works differently from the conventional positive pressure ventilators which, instead, push air into the lungs.
The device has already successfully been tested on six healthy adults, although it will need to be put through its paces in a full clinical trial before it can be put into general use.
Researchers found it was ‘able to deliver both an increased lung expansion to people breathing spontaneously, and powerful ventilation to take over people’s breathing entirely, using only moderate negative pressures’.