With small and pre-term babies, one of their many challenges is breathing. Most have stiff and undeveloped lungs. The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida recently unveiled a new, high tech device to help them.
“This is a new development in our capability to ventilate babies. It improves the synchronicity of the machine with the babies, so it’s much easier for babies to breathe,” says Dr. Kultar Singh, neonatologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
NAVA, which stands for Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist, attaches to a conventional ventilator. Instead of forcing air through the tube and into the lungs, this device senses when the baby’s diaphragm is contracting.
“It’s always machine which is syncing to the baby. It will let baby breathe on his or her pace and it will just assist as needed. They are doing most of the work and the machine is supporting them,” says Dr. Singh.
Conventional methods can create a struggle between the patient and the ventilator. Babies who fight the machine may need deeper sedation but syncing to their natural breathing pattern minimizes discomfort and lowers the risk of infection.
“Our sense is they are much more comfortable in it. And we think their number of days on a ventilator are shorter,” says Dr. Singh.
A breakthrough technology, NAVA is helping the tiniest patients breathe easy.