A Clear Look at Different Non-Invasive Ventilation Types

Advances in non-invasive ventilation technology are a big step forward in caring for people with breathing problems. Understanding the different types of non-invasive ventilation, and seeing how they’re helping patients get better quality of care is key to providing ideal treatment options.

In this blog, we’re going to discuss what non-invasive ventilation (NIV) is, explore the different types of NIV, and see how it’s helping the medical community deliver better patient care.


What is Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV)?

Non-Invasive Ventilation, commonly referred to as NIV, is a medical technique utilized to assist or fully support the patient’s breathing function without the need for intubation or surgical airway procedures. This approach is crucial in the management of numerous respiratory conditions.

This method proves particularly effective in treating conditions like obstructive sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and it’s an essential tool in both acute and chronic healthcare settings.

Non-invasive ventilation is different from invasive mechanical ventilation as it does not require caregivers to insert tubes or other devices into a patient’s body to help a person breathe.

Understanding How NIV Works

There are two types of non-invasive ventilation: positive-pressure ventilation and negative-pressure ventilation.


Positive-Pressure Ventilation

NIV operates by pushing air into a patient’s lungs. First, a tight seal is created over a patient’s nose or mouth with a facial or nasal mask. Then, the ventilator machine forces compressed air into the body, – similar to blowing up a balloon, thereby creating positive pressure.

This ventilation technique is used to:

  • Keep a patient’s airways open
  • Assist with the inhalation process
  • Fully control a patient’s breath cycle if needed


Negative-Pressure Ventilation

Negative-pressure ventilation works by creating a vacuum around the chest to expand the lungs and draw in air. This is the opposite of positive pressure ventilation, which pushes air into the lungs.

This technique was commonly used in the 1950s to treat patients suffering from paralytic polio. The devices were called iron lungs. A patient was first placed in a sealed chamber where the internal pressure was then increased and decreased to stimulate inhalation and exhalation.

Though largely replaced by positive-pressure ventilation, negative-pressure systems still have niche applications today, such as in cases of spinal cord injury or neuromuscular diseases where chest wall compliance is preserved.


The Difference Between Invasive and Non-Invasive Ventilation

Ventilation can broadly be divided into two types – invasive and non-invasive – each with its unique approach and specific use cases


Invasive Ventilation

Invasive ventilation requires a caregiver to insert a tube into the patient’s airway to help them breathe. This method is typically used in more severe cases when patients cannot breathe on their own and need full respiratory support.

Tube insertion for this type of ventilation can be performed in two ways:

  • Tracheal intubation. A tube is placed through the mouth or nose into the trachea to maintain an open airway for mechanical ventilation.
  • Tracheostomy. A small incision is made in a patient’s neckr to access their trachea and insert a ventilation tube.


Non-Invasive Ventilation

Non-invasive ventilation uses a mask or other device to deliver pressurized air without any incisions or tubes. This method is ideal for:

  • Patients with chronic respiratory conditions
  • Cases where temporary support is needed, like post-surgery


What Conditions Is NIV Used to Treat?

Both chronic and acute respiratory conditions can be treated with non-invasive ventilation. The most common conditions where NIV is used include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
  • Pneumonia
  • COVID-19 complications


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Benefits of NIV Therapy

Helping patients breathe is, of course, the primary benefit of any mechanical ventilation device. However, there are other benefits of NIV that make it a preferred choice of doctors and respiratory therapists. Six of these include:


Patient Comfort

NIV enhances patient comfort by avoiding invasive procedures, leading to less physical discomfort and a more positive patient experience.


Reduced Infection Risk

By avoiding invasive procedures, NIV significantly reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections, enhancing patient safety.


Fewer Complications

NIV reduces the potential for complications related to intubation such as damage to the vocal cords or trachea, improving patient outcomes.



NIV can be adjusted to cater to individual patient needs, providing a highly flexible approach to treatment that invasive ventilation often cannot match.



The use of NIV is not restricted to hospital settings; it can also be used in home care, making it more accessible for long-term patient management.



With reduced complication rates and shorter hospital stays, NIV can often provide a more cost-effective solution to patient care.


Areas Where NIV is Outpacing Invasive Ventilation Treatments

With NIV devices becoming more advanced and easier to use, the shift from invasive to non-invasive ventilation methods is becoming increasingly pronounced. Here are some key areas where this transition is happening:

  • Chronic Care Management: NIV is improving the long-term management of chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD and sleep apnea. Its ease of use and efficacy make it an excellent choice for patients requiring ongoing support.
  • Acute Respiratory Failure: In emergency and critical care settings, NIV is increasingly being used to manage acute respiratory distress, offering an effective alternative to intubation and reducing the risk of related complications.
  • Postoperative Care: The use of NIV to prevent postoperative complications and support recovery is on the rise. It has shown particular value in reducing the risk of respiratory issues after surgery.
  • Home Care: With the advancement of portable NIV devices, home care use is growing, enabling patients to manage their conditions in the comfort of their own homes, improving their quality of life.
  • Pediatric Care: The adoption of NIV is also expanding in pediatric care, providing a less intrusive method for supporting breathing in children with respiratory conditions.

In these areas and more, non-invasive ventilation is rapidly emerging as the preferred treatment method, transforming respiratory care and patient outcomes.


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Advanced NIV Machines Start with RBC Medical

The positive impact of non-invasive ventilation on modern healthcare is considerable. It offers numerous benefits, such as increased patient comfort, less risk of infection, more flexibility, enhanced accessibility, and cost-effectiveness.

At RBC Medical, we recognize the importance of these advancements. That’s why we work with medical researchers and manufacturers to design and supply top-quality NIV machines. For more information on how we can bring your NIV therapy dreams to life, contact our team.

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