BHU equipment comes handy to keep ICU germ free

Infection is an inevitable risk for critical patients admitted in the intensive care unit of any hospital.

Written by SURBHI KHYATI | Lucknow | Published: April 1, 2013 3:21:30 am

Infection is an inevitable risk for critical patients admitted in the intensive care unit of any hospital. With growing resistance against antibiotics,controlling these infections has become a major challenge for doctors. Banaras Hindu University’s Institute of Medical Science has come up with a unique solution to the problem — an equipment to throw the infected air of the ventilators,which cause maximum threat of infection to patients,out of the ICU. The university has applied for a patent of the equipment.

The ventilator is an equipment which gives artificial breath to critical patients unable to breathe on their own. Such patients already have infections in their lungs and when they breathe through the equipment,the exhaled air of these critical patients contains infectious bacteria and microbes. The ventilators expel this air inside the intensive care unit,thus exhaling infectious bacteria and microbes of one patient in the entire air space of the ICU. Being closed,air-conditioned units,these ICUs are unable to push out the contaminated air from their environment for several days,leading to the chances of accumulated infection,which then can affect other critical patients with compromised immunity.

The hand-assembled equipment that has been developed by Dr Ankit Agarwal,Assistant Professor of Anaesthesiology at BHU-IMS,under the guidance of head of the Department of Anaesthesiology,Prof D K Singh,is called ‘Exitall’.

The equipment works on the simple principle of throwing the infected air of the ventilator not inside but outside the ICU. One of its kind in the world,the equipment has been sent for patent by the university. “No such equipment has been developed anywhere in the world so far. The patent application for the equipment has been accepted by the controller general of patent designs and trademarks of India earlier this month,” said Dr Agarwal.

Exitall consists of ducts and pipes arranged in a particular way and connected to the exit point of ventilators,which allows the air coming out of the machine to be thrown out of the ICU.

However,ventilators are extremely sensitive devices and any change in the pressure can hamper their functionality,said Dr Agarwal. To rule out the chances of this change in pressure,the equipment has been added with a system to create negative pressure inside the ducts,which results in vacuum inside the ducts.

Further,to do away with chances of any pressure change,an alarm system has also been put in place that sounds audio-visual alarm in case of pressure change of the ventilator. The negative pressure of the equipment can be adjusted accordingly or switched off completely as per the need if the alarm goes off.

The device costs Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 and needs to be attached to each ventilator in the ICU. “There is scope in the equipment to be attached to a filter before finally expelling the air outside so that the infection does not spread. However,in open air and sun,bacteria and microbes are anyway killed and diluted and hence,do not remain infectious,” said Dr Agarwal,adding that the limitation of the equipment is that the infection inside the ventilator cannot be controlled by this system. He said that the research on the equipment is still going on and there can be further improvements in the prototype that has been developed.

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