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Invasive ventilation

Invasive ventilation may be administered with an endotracheal tube through the nose or mouth, or through a tracheostomy tube, as shown here. The tube may have an inflatable balloon cuff to provide a seal inside the trachea (airway).
Invasive breathing assistance interferes with the body’s normal mechanisms for humidifying and clearing the airway. Most patients who rely on this type of ventilation will need:
  • Humidification, because the nose and mouth — where air is normally humidified and warmed — are bypassed
  • Suctioning, because when tube and inflatable cuff are in place it’s hard to cough; coughing is how we normally clear secretions on our own

Noninvasive ventilation

Newer mask and nasal interface technologies allow many patients to use ventilators without an invasive artificial airway (such as an endotracheal tube or tracheostomy tube).

Noninvasive ventilation is administered through a mask over the mouth and / or nose, a simple mouthpiece, or nasal pillows/prongs.1 A harness or system of straps secures the mask to the patient’s face to keep it in place during ventilation.

Noninvasive ventilation is frequently used for chronic respiratory failure due to respiratory diseases (such as COPD) and neuromuscular diseases.


  1. Mehta S, Hill, NS.State of the Art: Noninvasive Ventilation. ATS Journals. Published June 25, 1999. Accessed March 27, 2018.

The information and guidance presented on this website is informational only and not intended to influence practice or supersede the instructions for use of any specific device.