Here is some of the special equipment used in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Paoli Hospital to treat and care for premature and seriously ill newborns.
A special bed permits easy access to the infant while maintaining the baby’s correct body temperature. A sensor, taped to the child’s skin, records and regulates the amount of warmth generated by an overhead heating hood.
When babies improve, they are moved into this familiar incubator. The baby is sustained comfortably by a continuous circulation of warm air. The infant stays in the Isolette until he or she is large enough to maintain body temperature without weight loss. At that time, the baby is moved to an open bassinet.
Monitors for Vital Signs
Special patches, or sensors, are placed on the baby’s skin. These are connected to a cardiorespiratory monitor to continuously record heart and breathing rates. A catheter, inserted either in the umbilical artery or in the peripheral arteries of the wrists or feet, continuously records blood pressure. A special machine with a miniature blood pressure cuff for the arm or leg is used, as needed, when babies no longer need continuous monitoring. Portable bedside electrocardiographs, attached by leads to the infant’s arms, legs and chest, monitor the electrical activity of the baby's heart.
All the intravenous (IV) fluids a baby receives are administered by a pump that delivers small, accurately measured amounts of liquids, nutrients and medicines as needed. IV lines may enter either a large artery or vein in the baby’s umbilical cord. Other IVs may be placed in smaller veins or arteries in the hands, feet or scalp. The arterial lines are used to monitor blood pressure and obtain blood samples. The venous lines are used to deliver fluids, nutrition and medication. A central venous line may be inserted, for example, into the umbilical vein, a peripheral vein or the jugular vein to serve as a route for major nutritional support. To prevent the infant from accidentally pulling out the IVs, the lines are stabilized by special boards that are cushioned with bandages and applied to the baby’s arms or legs.
Many infants in the NICU become jaundiced or yellowed due to an excess of a substance called bilirubin, which comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. To correct this imbalance in the blood, a baby may be exposed to overhead phototherapy lights. The baby's eyes are covered by protective eye patches during exposure.
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