A mechanical ventilator is a machine that makes it easier for patients to breathe until they are able to breathe completely on their own. Sometimes the machine is called just a ventilator, respirator or breathing machine. Usually, a patient is connected to the ventilator through a tube (called an endotracheal tube) that is placed in the windpipe. Sometimes, patients can use a machine that assists breathing through a mask or mouthpiece but this may not work with severe respiratory problems. Despite their life-saving benefits, mechanical ventilators carry many risks. Therefore, the goal is to help patients recover as quickly as possible to get them off the respiratory ventilator at the earliest possible time.