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Breathing balloon

A manual breathing balloon is a hand-held device used to ventilate patients who are not breathing themselves or who have difficulty breathing. The breathing balloon is recommended and often necessary equipment for healthcare professionals in the community and in hospitals. To emphasize its necessity, the AHA (American Heart Association), the equivalent of the European CPR Council, informs that all healthcare professionals should be familiar with and be able to use the breathing balloon. Manual balloons are also used in hospitals when a mechanical ventilator machine needs service or when a patient needs to be transported between different parts of the hospital. It can also be the case that a power outage forces the staff to switch to the manual breathing balloon.

The breathing balloon was invented in 1953 by the German engineer Holger Hesse and his Danish colleague Henning Ruben. Today, there are several different manufacturers, of which Norwegian Laerdal maintains an extremely high quality of its products. Their breathing balloons are durable and can be reused after thorough cleaning. They are available in sizes to suit adults, children, and infants. 



Parts of the breathing balloon

The breathing balloon consists of a flexible air chamber, which is the "balloon" itself. This is connected to a face mask that covers the patient's face. In between there is a filter and a vault to prevent the air from returning and to protect against pollution. When the face mask is properly applied and the balloon is compressed, air is forced into the patient's lungs. When the balloon is released, it expands and draws in air from the environment while the patient's lungs are emptied of air. The air goes out into the surrounding environment through the one-way valve, not into the balloon.

Respiratory balloons can be used without oxygen and then provide 21% oxygen from the air in the environment, but it is also possible to connect oxygen through a separate container and then get almost 100% oxygen supply to the patient.

The breathing balloon is available in several different sizes. For adults, children, and infants. The size of the mask can be independent of the size of the balloon. Laerdal has a child version with a valve that releases to ensure that not too much air enters the lungs at once.               



Guidelines for breathing balloons

The AHA and ERC (European Resuscitation Council) have developed guidelines for how to use the manual breathing balloons regarding volume and frequency so as not to injure patients.

Laerdal's reusable silicone breathing balloons are a market leader when it comes to breathing balloons. Silicone provides good expansion. Adapted for ventilation in adults, children, and infants. Laerdal's breathing balloons come in three different sizes:

Adult size for patients over 20KG

Child size for patients from 2.5KG to 20KG

Premature size for patients under 2.5KG

Children and premature infants also have a valve that prevents overventilation of the lungs. This can be closed when a higher pressure is necessary.

The breathing balloons are latex-free.

The picture below shows what is included in the various breathing balloons from Laerdal:

Breathing balloons


Neumar RW, Otto CW, Link MS, Kronick SL, Shuster M, Callaway CW, Kudenchuk PJ, Ornato JP, McNally B, Silvers SM, Passman RS, White RD, Hess EP, Tang W, Davis D, Sinz E, Morrison LJ . Part 8: Adult Advanced Cardiac Life Support: 2010 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Circulation 2010; 122: S729 - S767.     


Deakin CD, Nolan JP, Soar J, Sunde K, Koster RW, Smith GB, Perkins GD. European Resuscitation Council Guidelines for Resuscitation 2010. Section 4. Adult advanced life support. Resuscitation 2010: 81: 1305 - 1352.