The Medicine Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at Children’s Hospital Boston provides care to critically ill children with conditions that require close and constant monitoring. Our nurses, respiratory therapists, pediatric residents and fellows call on specialists from throughout the hospital as needed, while our attending physicians coordinate these specialists and direct the team taking care of your child.
We understand that a stay in the ICU can be frightening and stressful for both you and your child and recognize that many of the conditions, procedures and equipment used in the MICU may be unfamiliar, which can add to the stress of your child’s illness. Our MICU staff will do whatever they can to help reduce this stress and uncertainty by ensuring that you are kept up-to-date about your child’s condition, and receive the information you need to make informed choices about his or her care.
The following sections are designed to help you better understand what takes place in the MICU. We are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for your child, and our staff will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have at any time of the day or night.
About 60 percent of children in the MICU have respiratory illnesses that might require mechanical ventilation. Although our specialists are strong advocates of noninvasive ventilation, they are trained to provide all forms of ventilation when it becomes necessary.
What is noninvasive ventilation?
Noninvasive ventilation is delivered via a mask that fits on your child’s face and delivers pressure that helps your child to breathe.
Common noninvasive ventilation techniques include:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), helps to keep the airways open and is commonly used as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
- Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure machines (BiPAP), uses different levels of air pressure to help your child inhale and exhale.
What is mechanical ventilation?
Mechanical ventilation is used to treat respiratory failure (severe breathing problems). Mechanical ventilators are devices that stimulate the body’s normal breathing patterns by delivering a high-pressured flow of oxygen to into the lungs. Mechanical ventilation can be delivered either by an endotracheal tube, which is a tube inserted through the mouth or nose into the trachea (windpipe), or a tracheostomy which is a tube that is surgically inserted into the child’s trachea (windpipe).