New study evaluating customisied non-invasive ventilation interfaces for children (COMFORT) 24th September 2018

Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) is the delivery of breathing support via a facemask. It is used to treat people whose natural breathing is ineffective. Evidence shows that, when used long-term, it improves both quality of life and life expectancy.

Whilst there are mass produced masks for the adult market, it is challenging to find a well-fitting and therefore effective mask for children, particularly for the very young or those with facial abnormalities. In these patients for, ventilation is often provided invasively by a breathing tube which, while it offers a stable airway, can result in serious complications in development of speech and is expenisve to maintain.

The COMFORT study was funded by the NIHR in 2015 to develop novel mask-face interfaces to optimise mask fit to the needs of individual patients using 3D assessment and manufacturing technologies. In a laboratory setting, the mask has been demonstrated to be more effective than a standard mass-produced mask. 

The project is currently investigating potential business models to identify the most commercially viable and clinically practical approach applicable to a national/international market. The results should also be transferable to adult medicine, whereby the potential commercial impact and savings to the NHS will be substantial.

The project includes an industry partner, Materialise, who specialise in 3D scanning systems, 3D printing technology and manufacture of biocompatible materials.