G_Great
P_Performance

E_Engineering

G_Great
Premature babies can now breathe easy
P_Performance
Exact measurement of the respiratory volume – corrected for dead space and unaffected by leakage
E_Engineering
New measurement electronics for near-patient flow sensors with the NICOLAY two-way valve

NICOLAY flow sensor two-way valve for non-invasive mechanical ventilation of premature infants

The new flow-sensor system with the NICOLAY two-way valve – to monitor the flow of what is quite possibly the patient’s most important breaths

In essence, life begins with the very first breath we take on our own. Not so for premature infants. They are often dependent on mechanical ventilation. The problem with this is the lack of pressure-tight connection between the small patient and the ventilator. As a result, it is not possible to reliably assess their breath volume. This is exactly why we developed the NICOLAY two-way valve. With the help of two flow sensors and an external signal, it delivers exact readings for the first time – corrected for dead space and unaffected by leakage. Thus, it spares the premature baby the painful ventilation by means of an endotracheal tube and helps them get their lives off to a great start.

The Task

In essence, life begins with the very first breath we take on our own. Not so for premature infants. They are often dependent on mechanical ventilation. Today, most of them are ventilated non-invasively with a mask. The problem with this is the lack of pressure-tight connection between the small patient and the ventilator. If conventional, pressure-controlled devices are used, it is not possible to reliably assess the inspiratory and expiratory breath volume due to the leakage of the mask and the absence of an option for connecting a flow sensor. It was precisely for this reason that a customer consulted NICOLAY. Our job was to develop an OEM solution based on our NICOLAY flow-sensor connector that reliably delivers readings that are corrected for dead space and unaffected by leakage. To achieve this, the team here at NICOLAY developed a two-way valve to monitor the flow of what is quite possibly the infant’s most important breaths.

The Challenges

The very tight timeline for prototyping and the implementation of the electronic specifications as well as their integration into the distributor were particularly challenging. This may be easy to describe in only a few words, but resulted in an entirely new form of measurement electronics.

The Solution and the Added Value

Two become one – the two-way valve
The trick to the solution was to double the number of flow sensors. Instead of one, the NICOLAY two-way valve now integrates two sensors that operate in parallel into the ventilator’s tubing system. In combination with an external signal, they make it possible to precisely determine when the small patient inhales and thus determine the essential respiratory volume with extreme accuracy. The readings from this newly designed electronic measuring system are corrected for dead space and unaffected by leakage. Thanks to the NICOLAY two-way valve, it is now possible to reliably monitor non-invasive ventilation for the first time.

The Application

Anyone who has had a premature baby themselves or has seen premature babies intubated in a neonatology unit knows how important this improved non-invasive method of mechanical ventilation is. Instead of an endotracheal tube, ventilation is carried out using a mask or binasal prongs. This reduces the risk of infection from the use of the mask and reduces the dead space. And it makes the premature infant’s already difficult start in life easier.

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