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How do ventilators work? - Alex Gendler

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  • TEDEd Animation

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In the 16th century, physician Andreas Vesalius described how a suffocating animal could be kept alive by inserting a tube into its trachea and blowing air to inflate its lungs. Today, Vesalius’s treatise is recognized as the first description of mechanical ventilation— a crucial practice in modern medicine. So how do our modern ventilators work? Alex Gendler explains the life-saving technology.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Gendler
  • Director Igor Coric
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Igor Coric
  • Animator Igor Coric
  • Art Director Igor Coric
  • Compositor Igor Coric
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal, Dan Kwartler
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • Science Consultant Melvin Sanicas, David Biello
  • Special Thanks Natalie Coleman
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
See here for a history of mechanical ventilation, or here for a comprehensive overview of its current clinical applications. A video walkthrough of ventilator operation can be found here.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Gendler
  • Director Igor Coric
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Igor Coric
  • Animator Igor Coric
  • Art Director Igor Coric
  • Compositor Igor Coric
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal, Dan Kwartler
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • Science Consultant Melvin Sanicas, David Biello
  • Special Thanks Natalie Coleman
  • See more