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Emerg Med J. 2010 Apr;27(4):317-20. doi: 10.1136/emj.2008.069294.

Airflow efficacy of ballpoint pen tubes: a consideration for use in bystander cricothyrotomy.

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  • 1Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, Wales CF31 1RQ, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the suitability of commonly available ballpoint pens as a substitute emergency tracheostomy tube.

METHODS:

Commonly available ballpoint pens were examined and compared against two standard cricothyroidotomy sets. The pens were evaluated for dimensions, speed of construction of a temporary tracheostomy tube and airway resistance with differing flow rates.

RESULTS:

Internal diameters of the pens varied considerably. Time taken to construct a temporary tube ranged from 3 to 170 s, and in the majority of pens the airway resistance increased dramatically as the airflow rate increased.

CONCLUSION:

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of ballpoint pens appear unsuitable for use as a substitute tracheostomy tube. In this study only two pens fulfilled the criteria for use: the Baron retractable ballpoint and the BIC soft feel Jumbo.

PMID:
20385693
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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