PUCP and UPCH implement a non-invasive ventilation system for COVID-19 patients
PUCP’s Bioengineering Group and the VEO 3D Digital Manufacturing Room, with the support of the Cayetano Heredia University (UPCH), manufacture non-invasive ventilation systems to help with the recovery of hospital patients with intermediate-stage COVID-19. This equipment is affordable, because it adapts diving masks (snorkel) and is being tested in Lima’s hospitals.
Given the shortage of medical equipment for the treatment of COVID-19, the PUCP Bioengineering Group (GBI) and the VEO 3D Digital Manufacturing Room, with the support of the Cayetano Heredia University (UPCH), are working in the implementation of a new non-invasive ventilation system. This medical device, which is used in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, provides effective treatment for hospital patients in intermediate stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The novelty of this system is that it uses a diving mask (snorkel) for the patient. This completely protects your face, and prevents contamination by exhalation in medical personnel and nearby patients.
The team involved in this project is made up of Dr. Luis Vilcahuamán, biomedical engineer and coordinator of the GBI; Dr. Nilia Abad, medical intensivist at Rebagliati Hospital and master in Biomedical Engineering from PUCP; Dr. Michael Cieza, doctor and professor at UPCH; Eng. Julissa Venancio, student of the master in Biomedical Engineering; and Dr. Enrique Durand, head of the ICU of the Almenara Hospital.
The system allows respiratory therapy in moderately critical patients. The goal is for the patient to stabilize and not need to use a lung ventilator.”
Dr. Luis Vilcahuamán
Biomedical engineer and GBI coordinator
Advantages of the system
The new system offers several benefits. First, it is an easily accessible treatment alternative to stabilize mildly critical COVID-19 patients. The novelty of the device lies in the use of a diving mask (snorkel) for the patient. The mask completely “seals” the face of the infected patient and, thus, prevents contamination by exhalation in medical personnel and nearby patients.
The Almenara and Rebagliati hospitals tested the system. Other health centers are also expected to show interest in manufacturing and implementing it.
“The system allows respiratory therapy to be performed in moderately critical patients. It does not require intubation as in the case of the mechanical ventilator, it is safe for the patient and for the doctors. The goal is for the patient to stabilize and not need to use a lung ventilator, ” says Dr. Luis Vilcahuamán.
In addition, it is a relatively low-cost technology (around S / 400), which can be assembled in a few minutes in the hospitals. The diving mask can be sterilized and reused in other patients. Other assembly parts, such as peep valves and corrugated hoses, are usually available at all hospitals in the country.
“This system has been tested in functional terms: it prevents the spread of the virus, because it has filters. At PUCP and UPCH, we have prepared several prototypes and we are in the phase of clinical validation. We have tested it at the Almenara Hospital,” said Dr. Vilcahuamán. Last week, the Rebagliati Hospital and the Cayetano Heredia Hospital tested the system with good results. Other health centers are expected to show interest in manufacturing and implementing it.
VEO 3D Digital Manufacturing Room
PUCP’s VEO 3D Digital Manufacturing Room has participated in this project as a manufacturer of one of the pieces of equipment: the Charlotte valve, an adapter that allows the respirator to be connected. Each valve takes five hours to be produced through 3D printers. As of Friday, six had already been manufactured.
The Charlotte valve, a crucial piece of equipment, is manufactured in PUCP’s VEO 3D Digital Manufacturing Room. It is an adapter that allows connecting the respirator with the respective air channels.
“Everything has been done remotely. The person in charge of printing the pieces was Jesús Pérez, who is part of the Sala VEO 3D team. We have moved the VEO 3D Room printers to our homes to be able to carry out these types of projects without mobilizing or risking the staff, ” says M.S. Jennifer Wong, coordinator of this space.
During this emergency situation, the project led by Dr. Vilcahuamán is intended for hospitals to manufacture their own non-invasive ventilation systems. For the past six weeks, the GBI has been in charge of prototyping and designing. However, it is expected that each hospital can manufacture its own equipment with the contribution of private companies that have shown interest in collaborating.
“PUCP and UPCH researchers are going to continue supporting hospitals in this task. We are interested in teaching health personnel to assemble and produce this technology. Until they succeed, we will provide them with support,” says the biomedical engineer, whose short-term objective is to produce and supervise the implementation of the first 20 non-invasive respirators requested by the Almenara Hospital.