Ventilation Modes: “Alphabet Soup”

One of the toughest challenges when explaining modes of ventilation is the terminology and the common practice of using acronyms to describe modes and parameters. When it comes to the mode of ventilation used, it can often feel like you are reading random letters from a bowl of alphabet soup!

A bowl of alphabet soup. A spoon is raised above the bowl with the letters ABC in it.

Where things become really complicated is that every company that manufactures ventilators has slightly different names for all of their modes. When a mode is created, the manufacturer patents the specific name used. Once the patent allows for another company to utilize the intellectual principle used in that mode, other manufacturers create their own version of the mode with a slightly different name. This results in the same mode having sometimes upwards of 5 or 6 different names. For example, Volume Control can be VC, VCV, ACVC, or CMV-VC—just to name a few of the countless variations.

Try to look past the alphabet soup and identify the mode by what parameters are being set. Most modes use the same principles in their breath delivery. Examine the settings that a practitioner would set, and then classify the type of mode you are working with:

  • Is the mode control or spontaneous?
  • If the mode is control, is it pressure control or volume control?

Don’t worry if that sounds difficult—you’re about to learn more about how to develop this skill. If you can identify the mode accurately, short-forms and acronyms won’t confuse or overwhelm you. You can then apply the general knowledge from this book to any mode of ventilation you are exposed to—even adjunct or special modes not covered in this book—and have a better grasp of how to use it.

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