Leaf blowers as medical ventilators (for giraffes)

If you were tasked with anaesthetising a giraffe with a high-potency fast-acting opiod-based drug-combination (in order to perform essential veterinary work) you might have an urgent need for a suitable mechanical ventilator. But where could you find one?

A unique and imaginative solution has been devised by Dr Scott B. Citino, DVM, Dipl ACZM, of the White Oak Conservation Center, Yulee, Florida US, along with colleagues Mitchell Bush, DVM, Dipl ACZM (Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand) and Oswaldo Rivera (Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D.C. US).

The team devised a simple, effective ventilator, using an off-the-shelf leaf blower as the drive source [See photo].

“A simple, effective ventilator, utilizing either an electric or gas-powered leaf blower as the drive source, was designed to be used as an emergency field ventilator during a giraffe anesthesia study. This ventilator is made of commonly available parts, has a pop-off valve and pressure gauge to prevent over-inflation, an expiratory valve to provide postexpiratory end pressure (PEEP), and is relatively compact and easy to carry into the field. This device was used to ventilate three captive, sub-adult giraffe ranging in estimated weight from 580 to 700 kg. Inspiratory pressures of 20 cm H20 were reached quickly (< 2 sec), paO2 values were significantly increased, and paCO2 values were significantly decreased over pre-ventilation values, indicating adequate ventilation efficiency.“

See: ‘A SIMPLE, UNIQUE FIELD VENTILATOR FOR LARGE UNGULATES: ANOTHER USE FOR YOUR LEAF BLOWER’ in : Proceedings : American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, American Zoo and Aquarium Association Nutrition Advisory Group : 2007.

Many thanks to Dr Citino for supplying the photo of the leaf-blower-powered giraffe ventilator.