Mechanical ventilation (MV) although life-saving, can also be harmful:

  • MV and sedation cause the disused diaphragm muscle to atrophy rapidly and profoundly (ventilator induced diaphragm dysfunction; VIDD*)
  • Positive-pressure ventilation often damages the lungs (ventilator induced lung injury; VILI) and may lead to ventilatorassociated pneumonia (VAP)
  • MV requires intubation and depending on the injury or illness may require a tracheostomy whenever mechanical ventilation has to continue for a longer period of time
  • Ventilated patients are at high risk of contracting nosocomial (hospital-acquired) bacterial and fungal infections

* Levine S, Nguyen T, et al. “Rapid Disuse Atrophy of Diaphragm Fibers in Mechanically Ventilated Humans” N Engl J Med 358: 1327-35, 2008.