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A Nurse's Guide to Common Mechanical Ventilation Techniques and Modes Used in Infants

Nursing Implications

Snow, Timothy M., RN, NNP1; Brandon, Debra H., RN, PhD, CCNS2

Section Editor(s): SHORT, MARY A. RNC, MSN

Foundations in Newborn Care

The need for conventional mechanical ventilation (CMV) is a common one in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The goals of CMV are to facilitate adequate gas exchange, minimize the risk of lung injury/damage, decrease the patient's work of breathing, and optimize the patient's comfort. Although time-cycled, pressure-limited ventilation remains the most common CMV modality, volume-cycled ventilation, assist-control ventilation, pressure-support ventilation, and pressure-control ventilation are sometimes used in the NICU. Pressure-regulated volume control, volume-guaranteed ventilation, volume-assured pressure-support ventilation, and proportional-assist ventilation are emerging hybrid modes of CMV. Although CMV is frequently life saving, it can cause complications if improperly used. Nurses are responsible for the ongoing assessment and care of infants undergoing CMV and are becoming frequently more involved in the weaning process of CMV. This article provides an overview of conventional ventilation, with a focus on common modalities, and ventilation-related nursing interventions.

1Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and Brenner Children's Hospital, Winston-Salem, NC

2Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC.

Address correspondence to Timothy M. Snow, 4999 NC HWY 268, Dobson, NC 20717. E-mail: or

© 2007 National Association of Neonatal Nurses