Continuing our emphasis on the Neonatal Intensive Care Units for NICU Awareness Month. It can be quite scary to see your child with all those lines, monitors, and wires hooked up to them. As we showed in part one, these machines are vital to helping preemies and other babies to grow and develop outside of the womb as well as keeping them alive. Below, we continue our look at NICU Equipment to demystify some of the tools that are vital to caring for your baby.
In some instances, a preemie may require their body temperature to be lowered to reduce or prevent problems that result from the brain not receiving enough oxygen. In these instances, a cooling blanket (or cap) can be used to reduce a baby’s core temperature to 92°C (33.5°C). This piece of NICU equipment may be used within 6 hours of birth and can be typically used for up to 3 days.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
Another vital piece of NICU equipment at the disposal of hospital staff, the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (EMCO) unit removes blood from the body of your baby in order to put oxygen in the blood. Once the baby’s blood has been oxygenated, it is returned to the child’s body. EMCO may be used in conjunction with Pulse Ox monitors to maintain a specific blood oxygen level.
Another necessary piece of NICU equipment for ensuring proper oxygen levels is the ventilator which helps your baby breathe or breathes for them when they are not able to breathe on their own. It pushes warm air and oxygen into the lungs through a breathing tube known as an endotracheal tube. The machine allows hospital staff to set air pressure, amount of oxygen, and even breathing rate.
There are a variety of lines that may be required to care for your child if they are in the NICU but two of the most important are the Central and Intravenous Lines. The Central Line is a small plastic tube placed in a large blood vessel that allows hospital staff to administer medicine and draw blood. The IV is inserted into a vein with a needle and can be used for administering fluids, infusing blood, and slowly disseminating medications.