Michigan Medicine researchers invent device to support COVID-19 patients on single ventilator

Technology offers personalized settings for patients needing ventilators

The VentMI device has been created by a team of University of Michigan and Michigan Medicine researchers. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – University of Michigan and Michigan Medicine researchers have invented a device to help multiple COVID-19 patients receive personalized gas pressures and pressure monitoring from a single ventilator.

Using 3D printing, researchers created an affordable and mobile vent splitter, a device that allows different patients to use one ventilator.

The team of researchers made the VentMI device as a response to predicted shortages in intensive care unit equipment for patients with COVID-19.

With current vent splitters, there are limitations on how ventilators can be used. Since shared ventilator circuits only deliver one pre-set pressure, patients using the ventilator must have similarly-sized lungs and needs.

The personalized settings of the VentMI allow patients with different ventilator needs and lung capacities to share a ventilator. The technology works by slowly releasing compressed air to patients, like a scuba tank regulator.

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The VentMI has received emergency use authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration. Currently, it has been tested on animals but the authorization allows the device to now be used on humans, according to Michigan Medicine.

The team of researchers plans to make the device publicly available and will provide the device at-cost to institutions without any profit for the U-M or MakeMedical LLC, the local startup that licensed and developed the technology.

The VentMI is being manufactured by Autocam Medical in Grand Rapids. Hundreds of devices should be available for public distribution before the end of April, according to Michigan Medicine.

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Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.