You may need a ventilator in an emergency if a condition makes it difficult to breathe on your own (called respiratory failure). You may also need a ventilator during surgery.

You may need ventilation if you have serious lung or breathing problems or if you are having general anesthesia during surgery. Watch this video to learn more. Medical Animation Copyright © 2022 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.external link

Respiratory failure

Respiratory failure can be a life-threatening emergency. When you can’t breathe well, your organs cannot get enough oxygen to work. Sometimes, too much carbon dioxide, a waste gas from your body’s cells, can build up in your blood. This needs to be breathed out.

Many conditions and injuries can affect your breathing. Examples include:


You may need a ventilator if you are going to have surgery with general anesthesia (medicine that makes you sleepy and stops you from feeling pain). The medicines used for anesthesia can affect your normal breathing. A ventilator helps control your breathing.