Types of Life Support


Vasopressors are a group of powerful drugs that cause blood vessels to contract, thereby raising blood pressure.
Mechanical ventilation
Mechanical ventilation is used to support or replace the function of the lungs. A machine called a ventilator forces air into the lungs through a breathing tube. The ventilator may be used short term or it may be needed indefinitely for permanent lung disease or trauma to the brain.
Read the brochure What is a ventilator? Download: Brochure on What is a Ventilator?

Noninvasive ventilation (BiPAP)
Noninvasive ventilation is performed with a ventilator or another breathing machine called BiPAP. This is used when a patient cannot fully breathe on their own and needs help getting oxygen into their lungs. The patient wears a special face mask connected to the ventilator or the BiPAP machine.

Artificial nutrition and hydration

Nutrition and hydration may be used temporarily until the patient is well enough to eat and drink or it can be supplied indefinitely. Although potentially valuable and lifesaving, in many situations artificial nutrition and hydration does not necessarily provide appropriate care for dying patients.
Tube feeding
Tube feeding is the administration of a nutritionally balanced liquid formula through a feeding tube. Most commonly, a feeding tube is inserted into the stomach via the nasal passage (nasogastric or "NG" tube). Less commonly, a surgical procedure is performed to insert the feeding tube through the wall of the abdomen into the stomach (gastrostomy tube or "PEG") or into the small intestine (jejunostomy tube).

Feeding pump
Feeding pump
Intravenous (IV) feeding
Intravenous (IV) feeding is given to patients who are unable to use their digestive tract. Similar to tube feeding, the IV solutions provide the patient with the total amount of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals they need.
IV pump
IV pump
Dialysis does the work of the kidneys, which removes waste and excess fluid from the blood. Blood circulates from the body through the dialysis machine, where it is filtered and then returned to the body. At North York General Hospital, dialysis can only be performed in the Critical Care Unit. Some patients needing dialysis long-term may require transfer to a hospital with a chronic dialysis unit.
Dialysis machine
Dialysis machine