Data automated bag breathing unit for COVID-19 ventilator shortages

Aleksandra B. Gruslova, Nitesh Katta, Andrew G. Cabe, Scott F. Jenney, Jonathan W. Valvano, Tim B. Phillips, Austin B. McElroy, Robert K. LaSalle, Aydin Zahedivash, Van N. Truskett, Nishi Viswanathan, Marc D. Feldman, Richard B. Wettstein, Thomas E. Milner, Stephen Derdak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global mechanical ventilator shortage for treatment of severe acute respiratory failure. Development of novel breathing devices has been proposed as a low cost, rapid solution when full-featured ventilators are unavailable. Here we report the design, bench testing and preclinical results for an 'Automated Bag Breathing Unit' (ABBU). Output parameters were validated with mechanical test lungs followed by animal model testing. Results: The ABBU design uses a programmable motor-driven wheel assembled for adult resuscitation bag-valve compression. ABBU can control tidal volume (200–800 ml), respiratory rate (10–40 bpm), inspiratory time (0.5–1.5 s), assist pressure sensing (− 1 to − 20 cm H2O), manual PEEP valve (0–20 cm H2O). All set values are displayed on an LCD screen. Bench testing with lung simulators (Michigan 1600, SmartLung 2000) yielded consistent tidal volume delivery at compliances of 20, 40 and 70 (mL/cm H2O). The delivered fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) decreased with increasing minute ventilation (VE), from 98 to 47% when VE was increased from 4 to 16 L/min using a fixed oxygen flow source of 5 L/min. ABBU was tested in Berkshire pigs (n = 6, weight of 50.8 ± 2.6 kg) utilizing normal lung model and saline lavage induced lung injury. Arterial blood gases were measured following changes in tidal volume (200–800 ml), respiratory rate (10–40 bpm), and PEEP (5–20 cm H2O) at baseline and after lung lavage. Physiological levels of PaCO2 (≤ 40 mm Hg [5.3 kPa]) were achieved in all animals at baseline and following lavage injury. PaO2 increased in lavage injured lungs in response to incremental PEEP (5–20 cm H2O) (p < 0.01). At fixed low oxygen flow rates (5 L/min), delivered FiO2 decreased with increased VE. Conclusions: ABBU provides oxygenation and ventilation across a range of parameter settings that may potentially provide a low-cost solution to ventilator shortages. A clinical trial is necessary to establish safety and efficacy in adult patients with diverse etiologies of respiratory failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number54
JournalIntensive Care Medicine Experimental
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • ABBU
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Bag valve resuscitator
  • COVID-19
  • Emergency resuscitator
  • Lung injury
  • Ventilator shortage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Emergency Medicine


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