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High Frequency Ventilator


Updated July 19, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

An oscillator is one type of high-frequency ventilator.

An oscillator is one type of high-frequency ventilator.

Image courtesy of Jerry Burdette

A high frequency ventilator is a ventilator that delivers breaths much faster than a conventional ventilator. Conventional ventilators may deliver about 20 to 60 breaths per minute, but high frequency ventilators can deliver close to 1,000 breaths per minute.

High frequency ventilators are often used for very small or very sick premature babies. These preemies have lungs that are easily damaged, and conventional ventilators can cause chronic lung disease. High frequency ventilators are much gentler to a preemie's tiny airways, and can prevent lung damage in babies who will need to be ventilated for long periods of time.

There are different types of high frequency ventilators, including:

  • Oscillating ventilators, or oscillators
  • Jet ventilators
  • High frequency flow interrupters
Also Known As: high frequency vent
The preemie was placed on the high frequency ventilator to prevent damage to her tiny lungs.
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