Life-Saving Technology in the NICU

At CHOC, we are proud to be pioneers in the field of neonatology. We offer the very latest complex machines and monitoring devices designed for the unique needs of tiny babies. Below are just some of the amazing technological advances found in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Advanced hemodynamic monitoring

This high-tech monitoring system uses near infrared light spectrometry to monitor brain and kidney function.

Bedside pulmonary function testing

Pulmonary function tests are a group of tests that measure how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they move gases such as oxygen from the atmosphere into the body’s circulation.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

Through small tubes that fit into the baby’s nostrils, called nasal CPAP, this machine pushes a continuous flow of air or oxygen to the airways to help keep tiny air passages in the lungs open. CPAP may also be given through a breathing tube placed in the patient’s trachea.

Continuous, real-time telemetry monitoring of seizure activity

CHOC is proud to be one of the only hospitals in the country to provide real-time seizure monitoring. Whether a baby’s physician is in the NICU or tending to an infant at another hospital, he or she has instant, real-time access to his or her patient’s telemetry monitoring results.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

ECMO is a special technique for babies with respiratory problems and is similar to a heart-lung machine. With ECMO, blood from the baby’s vein is pumped through an artificial lung where oxygen is added and carbon dioxide is removed. The blood is then returned back to the baby. CHOC is one of the few NICUs in the region to offer ECMO for children and one of the only transport providers in the state to have it available for patients traveling via ambulance, helicopter or airplane to our facility.

Giraffe beds

CHOC is proud to provide some of our NICU babies with special “giraffe” beds. These special beds are designed to minimize any unnecessary stimulation to our babies. The beds rotate 360°, can be lowered or elevated as needed, and slide out of the temperature-controlled microenvironment to make it easier to position the baby for all types of procedures without disturbing the infant. The beds provide ample space and opportunity for parents and families to bond with the baby. Giraffe beds have a special pressure-diffusing mattress that relieves pressure points and helps keep baby’s skin healthy and even have a built-in scale so that it is easy to track the baby’s growth. CHOC is one of the only hospitals in the region to feature a giraffe bed transport shuttle that can be taken to the delivery room at neighboring St. Joseph Hospital.

High frequency oscillatory ventilators

These special ventilators are used in our NICU in order to reduce lung trauma our tiny premature babies and support other critically ill infants in respiratory distress.

Inhaled nitric oxide

Available in our NICU and in our transport vehicles, inhaled nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels in the lungs. It decreases blood pressure in the lungs and helps them to work better.

Brain and body cooling

Available to full-term infants, brain and body cooling is administered to newborns at risk for hypoxic brain injury within the first six hours of life. This treatment can prevent or significantly reduce the severity of neurologic injury associated with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen). Learn more about brain and whole body cooling.

Self-contained blood gas laboratory

A blood sample taken from an artery that measures the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, as well as the acidity or pH of the blood.

Bar code scanning to ensure safety

We utilize bar code scanning technology in our administration of medications, administration of breast milk, laboratory testing, and blood transfusions to ensure the right treatment is done on the right patient.