NICU Definitions

Here are the NICU definitions of the equipment that has been used for Mary. So you’ll know what is being used to help keep her with us until her tiny body can function on her own.


Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children,[1] and is one of several viruses that cause infections often called stomach flu, despite having no relation to influenza. It is a genus of double-stranded RNA virus in the family Reoviridae. By the age of five, nearly every child in the world has been infected with rotavirus at least once.[2] However, with each infection, immunity develops, and subsequent infections are less severe;[3] adults are rarely affected.[4] There are five species of this virus, referred to as A, B, C, D, and E.[5] Rotavirus A, the most common, causes more than 90% of infections in humans.

The virus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route. It infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis. Although rotavirus was discovered in 1973[6] and accounts for up to 50% of hospitalisations for severe diarrhoea in infants and children,[7] its importance is still not widely known within the public health community, particularly in developing countries.[8] In addition to its impact on human health, rotavirus also infects animals, and is a pathogen of livestock.[9]

Rotavirus is usually an easily managed disease of childhood, but worldwide more than 500,000 children under five years of age still die from rotavirus infection each year[10] and almost two million more become severely ill.[8] In the United States, before initiation of the rotavirus vaccination programme, rotavirus caused about 2.7 million cases of severe gastroenteritis in children, almost 60,000 hospitalisations, and around 37 deaths each year.[11] Public health campaigns to combat rotavirus focus on providing oral rehydration therapy for infected children and vaccination to prevent the disease.[12]


Indometacin (INN) or indomethacin (USAN and former BAN) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used to reduce fever, pain, stiffness, and swelling. It works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, molecules known to cause these symptoms. It is marketed under many trade names, including Indocin, Indocid, Indochron E-R, and Indocin-SR.

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital disorder in the heart wherein a neonate’s ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. Early symptoms are uncommon, but in the first year of life include increased work of breathing and poor weight gain. With age, the PDA may lead to congestive heart failure if left uncorrected.

Nasal Cannula

The nasal cannula (NC) is a device used to deliver supplemental oxygen or airflow to a patient or person in need of respiratory help. This device consists of a plastic tube which fits behind the ears, and a set of two prongs which are placed in the nostrils. Oxygen flows from these prongs.[1] The nasal cannula is connected to an oxygen tank, a portable oxygen generator, or a wall connection in a hospital via a flowmeter. The nasal cannula carries 1–6 litres of oxygen per minute. There are also infant or neonatal nasal cannulas which carry less than one litre per minute; these also have smaller prongs. The oxygen fraction provided to the patient ranges roughly from 24% to 35%, or the cannula may merely supply humidified air.


The hematocrit (Ht or HCT) or packed cell volume (PCV) or erythrocyte volume fraction (EVF) is the proportion of blood volume that is occupied by red blood cells. It is normally about 48% for men and 38% for women.[1] It is considered an integral part of a person’s complete blood count results, along with hemoglobin concentration, white blood cell count, and platelet count.

In mammals, hematocrit is independent of body size.


Lipids are a broad group of naturally occurring molecules which includes fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E and K), monoglycerides, diglycerides, phospholipids, and others. The main biological functions of lipids include energy storage, as structural components of cell membranes, and as important signaling molecules.

Lipids may be broadly defined as hydrophobic or amphiphilic small molecules; the amphiphilic nature of some lipids allows them to form structures such as vesicles, liposomes, or membranes in an aqueous environment. Biological lipids originate entirely or in part from two distinct types of biochemical subunits or “building blocks”: ketoacyl and isoprene groups.[4] Using this approach, lipids may be divided into eight categories: fatty acyls, glycerolipids, glycerophospholipids, sphingolipids, saccharolipids and polyketides (derived from condensation of ketoacyl subunits); and sterol lipids and prenol lipids (derived from condensation of isoprene subunits).

Although the term lipid is sometimes used as a synonym for fats, fats are a subgroup of lipids called triglycerides. Lipids also encompass molecules such as fatty acids and their derivatives (including tri-, di-, and monoglycerides and phospholipids), as well as other sterol-containing metabolites such as cholesterol.[5] Although humans and other mammals use various biosynthetic pathways to both break down and synthesize lipids, some essential lipids cannot be made this way and must be obtained from the diet.

Abdominal distension

Abdominal distention is a sensation of elevated abdominal pressure and volume. Millions of individuals complain of abdominal distension. It is estimated that close to 25% of the US population has some degree of abdominal distension on a regular basis. Some describe it as belching, others claim they feel nausea and yet others say they pass excessive gas. Abdominal bloating is a sensation of feeling uncomfortably full and the presence of abdominal rumbling sounds.[1] Abdominal distension is not associated with pain but mild cramps may occur. Surveys indicate that the majority of people who have abdominal bloating describe it as intense and nearly fifty percent seek some type of over-the-counter remedy.[citation needed]

PICC or PIC line

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC or PIC line) is a form of intravenous access that can be used for a prolonged period of time (e.g. for long chemotherapy regimens, extended antibiotic therapy, or total parenteral nutrition). First described in 1975,[1] it is an alternative to subclavian lines, internal jugular lines or femoral lines which have higher rates of infection. Subclavian and internal jugular line placements may result in pneumothorax (air in the pleural space of lung).

High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation (HFOV)

High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilation is characterized by high respiratory rates between 3.5 to 15 hertz (210 – 900 breaths per minute). The rates used vary widely depending upon patient size, age, and disease process. In HFOV the pressure oscillates around the constant distending pressure (equivalent to Mean Airway Pressure (MAP) which in effect is the same as Positive End Expiratory Pressure (PEEP). Thus gas is pushed into the lung during inspiration, and then pulled out during expiration. HFOV generates very low tidal volumes that are generally less than the dead space of the lung. Tidal volume is dependent on endotracheal tube size, power and frequency. Different mechanisms (Direct Bulk Flow – convective, Taylorian dispersion, Pendelluft effect, Asymmetrical velocity profiles, Cardiogenic mixing and Molecular diffusion) of gas transfer are believed to come into play in HFOV compared to normal mechanical ventilation. It is often used in patients who have refractory hypoxemia that cannot be corrected by normal mechanical ventilation such as is the case in the following disease processes: severe ARDS, ALI and other oxygenation diffusion issues. In some neonatal patients HFOV may be used as the first-line ventilator due to the high susceptibility of the premature infant to lung injury from conventional ventilation.

High Frequency Jet Ventilation (HFJV)

High Frequency Jet Ventilation employs an endotracheal tube adaptor in place for the normal 15 mm ET tube adaptor. A high pressure ‘’jet’’ of gas flows out of the adaptor and into the airway. This jet of gas occurs for a very brief duration, about 0.02 seconds, and at high frequency: 4-11 hertz. Tidal volumes ? 1 ml/Kg are used during HFJV. This combination of small tidal volumes delivered for very short periods of time create the lowest possible distal airway and alveolar pressures produced by a mechanical ventilator. Exhalation is passive. Jet ventilators utilize various I:E ratios–between 1:1.1 and 1:12– to help achieve optimal exhalation. Conventional mechanical breaths are sometimes used to aid in reinflating the lung. Optimal PEEP is used to maintain alveolar inflation and promote ventilation-to-perfusion matching. Jet ventilation has been shown to reduce ventilator induced lung injury by as much as 20%.


Dopamine is a catecholamine neurotransmitter present in a wide variety of animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. In the brain, this substituted phenethylamine functions as a neurotransmitter, activating the five types of dopamine receptorsD1, D2, D3, D4, and D5—and their variants. Dopamine is produced in several areas of the brain, including the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area.[1] Dopamine is also a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus. Its main function as a hormone is to inhibit the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

Dopamine is available as an intravenous medication acting on the sympathetic nervous system, producing effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. However, because dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, dopamine given as a drug does not directly affect the central nervous system. To increase the amount of dopamine in the brains of patients with diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and dopa-responsive dystonia, L-DOPA (the precursor of dopamine), is often given because it crosses the blood-brain barrier relatively easily.


Pneumothorax (plural pneumothoraces) is a collection of air or gas in the pleural cavity of the chest between the lung and the chest wall. It may occur spontaneously in people without chronic lung conditions (“primary”) as well as in those with lung disease (“secondary”), and many pneumothoraces occur after physical trauma to the chest, blast injury, or as a complication of medical treatment.[1][2]

The symptoms of a pneumothorax are determined by the size of the air leak and the speed by which it occurs; they may include chest pain in most cases and shortness of breath in many. The diagnosis can be made by physical examination in severe cases but usually requires a chest X-ray or computed tomography (CT scan) in milder forms. In a small proportion, the pneumothorax leads to severe oxygen shortage and low blood pressure, progressing to cardiac arrest unless treated; this situation is termed tension pneumothorax.[1][3]

Small spontaneous pneumothoraces typically resolve by themselves and require no treatment, especially in those with no underlying lung disease. In larger pneumothoraces or when there are severe symptoms, the air may be aspirated with a syringe, or a one-way chest tube is inserted to allow the air to escape. Occasionally, surgical measures are required, especially if tube drainage is unsuccessful or someone has repeated episodes. Various treatments, usually involving pleurodesis (sticking the lung to the chest wall), may be used if there is a significant risk of repeated episodes of pneumothorax.

Midazolam (Versed)

Midazolam (pronounced /m??dæz?læm/, and marketed in English-speaking countries under brand names Dormicum,[1] Hypnovel,[2] and Versed[3]) is a short-acting drug in the benzodiazepine class that is used for treatment of acute seizures, moderate to severe insomnia, and for inducing sedation and amnesia before medical procedures. It has extremely potent anxiolytic, amnestic, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, skeletal muscle relaxant, and sedative properties.[4][5][6] Midazolam has a fast recovery time and is the most commonly used benzodiazepine as a premedication for sedation; less commonly it is used for induction and maintenance of anesthesia. Flumazenil is a benzodiazepine antagonist drug that can be used to treat an overdose of midazolam as well as to reverse sedation.[5] However, flumazenil can trigger seizures in mixed overdoses and in benzodiazepine dependent individuals so is not used in most cases.[7][8]

Administration of midazolam by nose or the buccal route (absorption via the gums and cheek) as an alternative to rectally administered diazepam is becoming increasingly popular for the emergency treatment of seizures in children.[9] Midazolam is also used for endoscopy[10] procedural sedation and sedation in intensive care.[11][12] The anterograde amnesia property of midazolam is useful for premedication before surgery to inhibit unpleasant memories.[13] Midazolam, like many other benzodiazepines, has a rapid onset of action, high effectiveness and low toxicity level. Drawbacks of midazolam include drug interactions, tolerance, withdrawal syndrome as well as adverse events including cognitive impairment and sedation.[13] Paradoxical effects occasionally occur and are most common in children, the elderly,[13] and particularly after intravenous administration.[14]


Heparin (from Ancient Greek ???? (hepar), liver), also known as unfractionated heparin, a highly-sulfated glycosaminoglycan, is widely used as an injectable anticoagulant, and has the highest negative charge density of any known biological molecule.[1] It can also be used to form an inner anticoagulant surface on various experimental and medical devices such as test tubes and renal dialysis machines. Pharmaceutical-grade heparin is derived from mucosal tissues of slaughtered meat animals such as porcine (pig) intestine or bovine (cow) lung.[2]

Although used principally in medicine for anticoagulation, the true physiological role in the body remains unclear, because blood anti-coagulation is achieved mostly by heparan sulfate proteoglycans derived from endothelial cells.[3] Heparin is usually stored within the secretory granules of mast cells and released only into the vasculature at sites of tissue injury. It has been proposed that, rather than anticoagulation, the main purpose of heparin is defense at such sites against invading bacteria and other foreign materials.[4] In addition, it is conserved across a number of widely different species, including some invertebrates that do not have a similar blood coagulation system.


An echocardiogram, often referred to in the medical community as a cardiac ECHO or simply an ECHO, is a sonogram of the heart (it is not abbreviated as ECG, which in medicine usually refers to an electrocardiogram). Also known as a cardiac ultrasound, it uses standard ultrasound techniques to image two-dimensional slices of the heart. The latest ultrasound systems now employ 3D real-time imaging.

In addition to creating two-dimensional pictures of the cardiovascular system, an echocardiogram can also produce accurate assessment of the velocity of blood and cardiac tissue at any arbitrary point using pulsed or continuous wave Doppler ultrasound. This allows assessment of cardiac valve areas and function, any abnormal communications between the left and right side of the heart, any leaking of blood through the valves (valvular regurgitation), and calculation of the cardiac output as well as the ejection fraction. Other parameters measured include cardiac dimensions (luminal diameters and septal thicknesses) and E/A ratio.

Echocardiography was an early medical application of ultrasound. Echocardiography was also the first application of intravenous contrast-enhanced ultrasound. This technique injects gas-filled microbubbles into the venous system to improve tissue and blood delineation. Contrast is also currently being evaluated for its effectiveness in evaluating myocardial perfusion. It can also be used with Doppler ultrasound to improve flow-related measurements (see Doppler echocardiography).

Echocardiography is either performed by cardiac sonographers, cardiac physiologists(UK) or doctors trained in cardiology.

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