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Emerg Med J. 2007 Jan;24(1):57-8.

Cuffed endotracheal tube use in paediatric prehospital intubation: challenging the doctrine?

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MAGPAS and Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Basildon, UK.


Questioning traditional doctrines is essential if patient care is to improve and progress. Historically accepted teaching is to use uncuffed tubes in all children up to puberty. This has been the practice in anaesthesia, intensive care and paediatric resuscitation both in and out of hospital. The use of cuffed endotracheal tubes (ETTs) in pre-pubertal children is evolving in general anaesthesia and intensive care in hospital practice. In contrast, uncuffed tubes are still widely recommended for use in the prehospital environment in this age group. There are a number of good reasons why a cuffed tube should be considered in preference to an uncuffed tube in children intubated out of hospital, regardless of their age or size. There are also some counterarguments which are worthy of consideration. This article presents the arguments for and against the use of cuffed tubes in children in prehospital care with a view to stimulating open discussion and debate.

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