Specific Applications of Medical Compressors

When talking about compressors, they are often associated with the making of products in many industries, whether it involves the processing of foods or cleaning component workpieces that are made into parts. For the medical industry, hospitals, medical testing labs, and other healthcare facilities use two different types of medical air systems.

NFPA 99 medical air systems are utilized when providing direct medical care. The systems may provide treated air that is breathed in or allow certain devices to operate as these devices may come in external or internal contact with the patient’s body. These types of air systems are also used for calibrating medical instruments used for human respiration when providing treatments. The second type of high quality hospital air system — that is typically called lab air, compressed air, or equipment air — is used for other medical applications that doesn’t require direct human contact or used in medical devices that provide direct respiratory health treatments to patients.

The number of medical processes and procedures that use compressed air is vast. Let’s take a look at specific applications for medical compressors.

Blood Analyzers

To properly diagnose medical problems, doctors take samples of patients’ blood and send it off to testing. Medical labs use blood analyzers to provide analysis regarding the glucose levels, red/white blood cell counts, types of drugs that the patient is using, and other information. Then a doctor may narrow down his medical diagnosis and provide the proper treatment. For blood analyzer machines, lab air compressors help move the vials and instrumentation when testing the blood. Using other mechanical means would require bearings, flanges, and other components to be lubricated to move, as this lubrication could contaminate the blood samples. Instead, this uses oil-free compressed air to perform the work.

Surgical Instruments

Surgical instruments assist doctors when performing cosmetic surgeries, scheduled procedures, and life-saving emergencies. NFPA 99 instrument air is used in a variety of ways depending on the instrument and/or the procedure. The NFPA 99 air may be used to power surgical tools that drill, puncture, or dissect. This high quality air may also push out excess air within the instrument that may hamper its functions. A separate air line is used to power the devices as they require oil-lubricated specialty compressors that offer 160+ psi up to 200psi.

Equipment Sterilization

For equipment sterilization, autoclaves and other equipment uses heat to kill off germs and bacteria from medical and lab tools. The autoclaves use lab air to evacuate the chamber before sterilization as a medical vacuum pump may be used. Lab air may also be used after sterilization processes that use liquid chemicals to clean tools, such as endoscopes. After the tools go through a mechanical washer, the medical lab air helps to dry up the excess moisture inside the instruments.


When patients are giving medications in hospital settings, sometimes the drugs are not administered in liquid or pill form directly. Instead, the liquid medication is turned into a vapor form as it can enter into the body. Nebulizers are equipment that produces an air stream that goes through the liquid medication. The misted air then is breathed into the body using a face mask or a mouthpiece. By using NFPA 99 air, the patient can breathe in the medication as it moves through the mouthpiece’s chamber valves to enter the body.

Surgical Aspirators

Surgical aspirators are commonly used during procedures where the doctor removes foreign materials, fluids, or tissues from the patient. The aspirator has a collection canister that will hold the materials vacuumed up. These tools are often used to clean wounds and other injuries, or to keep a surgical site clear during the procedure. NFPA 99:2018 medical vacuum pump allow the tool to pick up the materials.


During hospital stays, patients may require oxygen because their oxygen levels are very low. Respirators, also called ventilators, supply artificial purified air at a specified amount into the lungs through a face mask or tube. Medical compressors, valves, tubes, and an oxygen supply are used in the setup of respirators and ventilators. The patient may have one on for the entire time they are in the hospital or may require oxygen treatments at specific times.

Other Applications

The list of applications is vast for medical compressors. In addition to the equipment and tools listed above, medical vacuum pumps and compressors may also be found in dialysis machines, pneumatic hospital beds, nitrogen generators, blood pressure monitors, and many others.

When it comes to medical compressors, the purest air must be supplied to prevent contamination of tools, surgical rooms, and within patients. Medical grade air compressors must meet NFPA 99 certification to be allowed for use in respirators and in contact with patients while high purity lab air is used to power devices. When looking for medical air compressors, contact John Henry Foster to seek customized solutions.