Medical Definition of Positive pressure ventilation

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017

Positive pressure ventilation: The provision of air under pressure by a mechanical respirator, a machine designed to improve the exchange of air between the lungs and the atmosphere. The device is basically designed for administering artificial respiration, especially for a prolonged period, in the event of inadequate spontaneous ventilation or respiratory paralysis.

The mechanical ventilator was invented in 1927 by Philip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw. It consisted of an iron box (and so was called an iron lung) plus a bed and two vacuum cleaners. The next model was made by Warren Collins and was inaugurated on October 12, 1928 at the Children's Hospital in Boston to help a girl with polio breath.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017