In using high frequency oscillatory ventilation (HFOV) tidal volume and LPM (flow) values can be exceptionally difficult to monitor. Several third-party devices have been developed to monitor this, but due to a lack of any solid standard of operation, it is still considered to increase patient risk over conventional ventilation. Regardless, let’s take a look at its current applications and uses.

Currently, HFOV has found a niche in non-conventional settings, primarily in the treatments of neonatal patients and some adult cases where the patient is considered to be past the point at which traditional ventilation would be beneficial. It is important to note that the largest fear surrounding HFOV concerns is the lack of understanding of the delivered tidal volume and other common parameters used to describe breaths.

HFOV, in some medical systems, has become a “last resort” treatment option.

The Benefit

It doesn’t expose the lungs of a patient to the same dramatic swings in pressure and flow that a standard ventilator does. Damaged lungs can be further exacerbated by such swings, and the underdeveloped lungs of premature infants are especially susceptible.

The Drawbacks

HFOV is such a departure from a standard breath that it invites mistrust, and without the ability to really explore the WHY of the effectiveness of HFOV, such a departure is difficult to justify. It is often found, in medical studies, that the human body is very well adapted to its’ natural processes.

The mention of a ventilator forcing hundreds of miniature breaths onto a patient every minute is, admittedly, a bit intimidating. It could, however, offer some excellent treatment options to future patients. We aren’t saying advocating to press this sort of treatment—not until we find a way to confirm effectiveness and minimize risk to patients—but we do believe that the benefits of better understanding this non-conventional form of ventilation would far outweigh the cost.

Review part one and part two of the series and contact us with any follow-up questions or comments.