Clinical Information

Clinical Information

About the Winnipeg Ventilator

The Winnipeg Ventilator is an updated version of the original Winnipeg Ventilator designed in Winnipeg in the early 1990s by Dr. Magdy Younes, MD, FRCPC, Ph.D., then head of respiratory medicine at the University of Manitoba and Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg. 

The ventilator uses a revolutionary “frictionless” piston to generate pressure. With this patented design (US 5,540,222, 1996, inventor: Magdy Younes, assignee: University of Manitoba), the circular piston is machined so that its diameter is only a small fraction of mm smaller than the diameter of the cylinder in which it rolls smoothly along a central axis. The absence of a physical seal or contact between piston and cylinder greatly reduces the resistance to piston motion making it possible to obtain very high flow rates.

In contrast to other piston-based ventilators with piston seals, it responds rapidly and easily to a patient’s inspiratory efforts making it possible to generate enough flow to trigger the ventilator with minimal effort by the patient.

The Original Winnipeg Ventilator

Originally built as a research tool to validate a new method of assisting ventilation called Proportional Assist Ventilation (PAV). This method, where the patient controls the ventilator to meet their specific needs at the time (akin to power steering), requires a gas delivery system that is highly responsive to the patient’s efforts. For validation, 28 units were built in Winnipeg and distributed to several international centers to test PAV. The method was then validated. In the process the Winnipeg Ventilator was used on several hundred subjects including critically-ill patients in ICUs, ambulatory patients with chronic respiratory failure, normal subjects at rest and during heavy exercise with ventilation in excess of 15 times baseline levels. 

Puritan Bennett (PB), the leading ventilator manufacturer at the time, acquired an exclusive license from the University of Manitoba to manufacture a new ventilator model based on this design. This resulted in the highly successful 740/760 Puritan Bennett ventilator series. Tens of thousands of units were sold around the world and were used extensively during the SARS epidemic in 2003. 

The Winnipeg Ventilator is:

  • Portable and lightweight

  • Intuitive, with an easy to use user interface

  • Low cost: Can be manufactured in bulk 

  • Easily Scalable: Purposefully designed to minimize competition with existing supply chains.

  • Proven: The original ventilator prototypes were tested in multiple ICUs and research laboratories in Europe and North America with >15 publications in top journals and no reported adverse events

The original Winnipeg Ventilator was used on a research basis and was not an approved Medical Device under Health Canada. The updated Winnipeg Ventilator design has been accepted and is being developed under the NGen Canada COVID-19 Response Project in accordance with Health Canada Ventilator Review Elements under section 4 of the Interim Order respecting the importation and sale of medical devices for use in relation to COVID-19.

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