The goal of mechanical ventilation is to support breathing when a COPD patient is no longer able to do so effectively on their own. Mechanical ventilation is generally the last resort when a patient is having difficulty breathing and cannot maintain adequate oxygenation.
When a patient requires mechanical ventilation, a tube is inserted into the throat by a process called intubation. The tube extends down the trachea and into the lungs and is connected to outside plastic tubing that hooks up to the ventilator.
If you are having difficulty breathing, and medications or other treatment options aren't working, your doctor may initially try non-invasive ventilation to help you breathe better. If this fails, then mechanical ventilation may be necessary to sustain your life.