Taking A Look At The Most Common ICU Equipment

An Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a specialized facility in most hospitals that is meant for critical patients who are extremely injured or ill and cannot function without the help of the monitors. While some of the equipment in an ICU help patients process toxin build-up in their body, the others offer important information to the doctors so that they can monitor the vital signs of patients. Today we are going to take a look at the most important equipment which can be commonly seen in an intensive care unit. 

Arterial Catheter

An arterial catheter refers to a thin plastic tube that is increasingly used in anesthesia and intensive care medicine for monitoring the blood pressure of patients on a real-time basis. The tube is inserted into the artery to provide samples for blood tests. Critically ill patients require their blood pressure to be monitored constantly and an arterial catheter can help with the same. Nursing and medical staff also don’t require to prick needles for every blood test as the arterial catheter eases the whole process. 

Warming & Cooling Blankets

Warming and cooling blankets are a common feature of an intensive care unit where it is used for regulating the patient’s body temperature. The blanket remains attached with a hot or cold air blowing device. While the cooling ones are placed underneath the patient, the warming blankets are placed above. Patients require cooling after a traumatic brain injury, cardiac arrest, high fever, and sepsis.

Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)

This mechanical circulatory device can replace the heart function either partially or completely. While some VADs are meant for being used over the short term, others are prescribed over a long tenure. There is a distinct difference between artificial heart and VADs as the former calls for removal of the patient’s heart and all the related functions are completely taken over by the device. This is not the case with a VAD which offers assistance to either the LVAD or RVAD ventricle, or both simultaneously (BiVAD). Pulmonary arterial resistance determining the pressure levied on the right ventricle and the underlying heart disease determines the type of VAD which might be used. 

Electroencephalography (EEG)

Electroencephalography refers to the recording of the brain cell’s electrical activity. Current flows within the brain neurons result in electrical fluctuations and this is measured by EEG. Spontaneous electrical activity of a patient’s brain is recorded over 20-40 minutes from multiple electrodes positioned on the scalp. EEG has found massive usage in the fields of neurology where it is used for treating acute cases of epilepsy. Coma, brain death, traumatic brain injury, and encephalopathies are diagnosed by the use of EEG in Intensive Care units. Small caps attached to the patient’s scalp pick up signals transmitted from the brain and these waveforms can be interpreted by specially trained doctors and nurses. An EEG machine can measure diseases like severe brain injury and epilepsy caused by insufficient oxygen availability. Doctors might either prescribe single or continuous recording of brain waves depending upon the condition.

Dialysis Machines

Also known as a kidney machine, this device can replace the renal function of a patient suffering from acute or chronic kidney failure. Improper functioning of kidneys can lead to the accumulation of extra electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, and calcium in our bodies. Over time it causes deposition of creatinine and urea causing metabolic and hemodynamic problems. A dialysis machine assists in the effective removal of waste and water from the blood of patients suffering from renal failure. 

Intracranial Pressure Monitoring

ICP monitoring is prescribed for treating patients suffering from extreme traumatic brain injury. It is also prescribed in the aftermath of brain surgery. A patient’s brain tends to swell on suffering from heavy trauma. Over time, the brain might be deprived of oxygen-rich blood if the swelling remains undetected over a prolonged period leading to permanent brain damage. Medical staff can understand the level of swelling sustained by the brain courtesy of ICP monitoring. 

Balloon Tamponade Tubes

Refractory bleeding is stalled by inserting balloons into the stomach, esophagus, or uterus. This process is known as balloon tamponade and stops bleeding from various vascular structures like gastric varices and esophageal varices. A balloon tamponade tube comes with three channels which are inserted via the nose into the food pipe. 

Bedside Monitors

This is one of the most commonly used ICU equipment which resembles a computer or television screen and displays various functions of the human body via numbers or waveforms. Some commonly monitored functions are blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, and oxygen saturation. A variety of sensing devices are attached to the patient’s body and connected by wires to the monitor. Alarms built into the monitor sends signals to the medical staff whenever the vitals of a patient drop below the normal range. 

Breathing Tube

A breathing or endotracheal tube is inserted into the trachea for ensuring the proper exchange of O2 and CO2 through a patent airway. One end of the tube comes out of the patient’s mouth and remains attached with a mechanical ventilator. With a variety of tracheal tubes, doctors prescribe the ones which are in sync with the specific requirements of patients. An endotracheal tube can alleviate breathing distress caused by severe asthma, respiratory failure, pneumonia, COPD, etc. A safe pathway is guaranteed by the breathing tube so that your loved ones can receive proper oxygenation and ventilation offered by the breathing devices. 

BIPAP

Non-Invasive ventilation makes use of the Bilevel positive airway pressure system alongside a flow-cycled or time-cycled alteration of the applied CPAP level. These ventilation modes have proved to be effective in managing acute respiratory failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary ailments. BIPAP ventilation keeps our alveoli and lungs inflated while pushing in oxygen. It is prescribed by doctors if the patient faces difficulty in breathing effectively by inhaling adequate oxygen. BIPAP has attained massive popularity as an alternative to mechanical ventilation and intubation. It can offer respite to patients suffering from COPD, pneumonia, cardiac failure, acute severe asthma, etc. 

Nasogastric Tube

A nasogastric tube is inserted through the nasal passage for gaining access to the patient’s stomach during various therapeutic or diagnostic procedures. The process can be an uncomfortable one and this is why the patients are given local anesthesia. This tube is mostly used to feed and administer drugs to the patients. Often the contents of the stomach might be drained using the tube. This process is known as nasogastric aspiration and is prescribed to patients suffering from gastrointestinal obstructions. Doctors prescribe nasogastric aspiration when patients have accidentally ingested any potentially toxic liquid. It also assists in extracting gastric liquid samples for analysis. When the tube is attached to a collector’s bag and positioned below the patient’s stomach, then it can foster continuous drainage. 

Pacemaker

An artificial pacemaker uses electrical impulses that are delivered by electrodes coming in contact with the heart muscles. This helps in regulating the beating of a patient’s heart. The pacemaker operates with the primary function of maintaining adequate heart rate if the patient’s heart has a blockage or cannot beat fast enough. Modern pacemakers can be programmed externally allowing the cardiologist to choose amongst a variety of pacing modes to cater to the requirements of patients. Pacemakers might come with a variety of functions with the most basic ones being able to keep a tab over the patient’s heart’s native electrical rhythm. 

ECMO

An extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) technique offers both respiratory and cardiac support oxygen to patients suffering from heart and lung ailments. Initially, a surgeon performs cannulation on a patient following which an ECMO specialist monitors him 24*7. ECMO is the perfect choice of treatment for patients whose heart and lungs have stopped working properly and can serve as a viable alternative to lung and heart transplants. 

Suction Catheters

The long and flexible suction catheters are attached to an end of the tracheostomy tube or breathing tube. Its other end remains connected to a suction canister and a suction generating device. Critically injured or ill patients put into mechanical ventilation might require occasional suctioning for removing sputum accumulation in the airway. This is done by inserting suction catheters inside the breathing tube by the nurse, therapist, or ICU technician. Doing this is very effective in preventing pneumonia and keeping the airways devoid of secretions infamous for plugging the passage. 

Conclusion

An intensive care unit closely monitors the vital sign changes of a patient. The right set of equipment can bring a greater level of medical accuracy during the procedures. Picking the correct equipment is easier said than done given the fact that these devices are extremely capital intensive. This makes it imperative to get these devices from a well-known manufacturer like Soma Technology who can guarantee optimum value for money spent on demo and refurbished medical equipment that is preferred by popular GPOs across the country. You can simply browse through popular categories and select the device you require for offering holistic care to your patients. 

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