Respiratory Arrest

A respiratory arrest is a term used to describe a situation where a patient stops breathing on his or her own. This is a very serious and immediately life-threatening situation.

Treatment must be started immediately. Initially, members of the health care team can breath for the patient with a face mask and air filled bag. The bag is connected to oxygen and squeezed to force air into the patient's lungs. This is a temporary measure and done while preparing to insert a breathing tube into the windpipe (called an endotracheal tube). The endotrachal tube is connected to a breathing machine called a ventilator.

The duration of time that the patient will require the breathing tube will depend upon the reason for the breathing problem. If the problem is easy to treat, the tube and ventilator may only be required for a period of hours. If the patient has a more serious lung problem, the support may be required for days or weeks. In rare situations, the patient may have a breathing problem that will require a permanent breathing tube and ventilator.

Image 1: Endotracheal tube (breathing tube)


Image 2: Ventilator