Top of the page
A pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is a part of the hospital where very sick children get care. Sometimes this care may include helping your child breathe.
The PICU has special equipment to help your child breathe, such as:
The equipment that helps your child breathe may need to be adjusted a lot. If you have questions about breathing support, the PICU staff can help explain the different types of equipment and how they work.
The PICU staff can use other devices to check breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels.
Over time, a child in the PICU may not need as much breathing support. As a child gets stronger, the doctor may move (or wean) him or her from a ventilator to a CPAP machine. A child may then be moved to a mask or nasal cannula with oxygen, and finally to breathing without the need for help.
You may see tubes and wires attached to your child. This can be upsetting to see. But these things help the doctor treat your child.
The tubes supply air, fluid, and medicines to your child. The wires are attached to machines that help the doctor keep track of vital signs. These include temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and pulse rate.
Ventilators and other equipment have alarms that alert the care team to any sudden changes. Usually an alarm just means that something needs to be adjusted. The care team may come in and check on it. If you have questions about any alarms, you can ask a PICU staff member.
The PICU staff is highly trained to care for very sick children. They will do everything they can to help. If you need it, ask for support from friends and family. You can also ask the hospital staff about counselling and support.
Current as of: May 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur MD MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
©2006-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.