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Anesthesiology. 1991 Oct;75(4):693-6.

The "educated hand". Can anesthesiologists assess changes in neonatal pulmonary compliance manually?

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Department of Anesthesia, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0648.


To determine whether anesthesiologists can manually detect significant changes in pulmonary compliance in neonates using an "educated hand," the authors tested whether clinicians could detect clamping of an endotracheal tube connecting a neonatal lung model to one of three anesthesia breathing circuits. The test lungs corresponded to the lung of a full-term neonate (large lung) or a premature neonate (small lung), and the circuits were a disposable Mapleson D and a disposable pediatric circle system with and without a humidifier. Clinicians having four levels of expertise (inexperienced anesthesia residents, experienced anesthesia residents, faculty not specializing in pediatric anesthesia, and specialized pediatric anesthesia faculty) were permitted to choose fresh gas flows, ventilatory pattern, and rate. After an acclimation period, the endotracheal tube connecting the test lung to the circuit was occluded once for 30 s. Clinicians were credited with a successful detection if they reported the occlusion within 15 s and had fewer than one false positive per minute. With the large lung model, only 4 of 24 clinicians detected occlusion with the Mapleson D circuit; similar results were obtained with the other circuits. With the small lung model, the only successful detection occurred with the Mapleson D circuit. Success at detecting occlusion was similarly low for clinicians with different levels of expertise. The authors conclude that the commonly held belief that the "educated hand" permits clinicians to detect subtle changes in pulmonary compliance in neonates during anesthesia (necessitating manual rather than mechanical ventilation) is not true.

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