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Br J Anaesth. 2010 Oct;105(4):538-43. doi: 10.1093/bja/aeq202. Epub 2010 Aug 3.

Effect of tracheal tube cuff shape on fluid leakage across the cuff: an in vitro study.

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Department of Anaesthesia, University Children's Hospital, Steinwiesstrasse 75, CH 8032 Zurich, Switzerland.



This study compared the fluid leakage in the new 'tapered' shaped against the classic 'cylindrical' shaped tracheal tube cuffs when placed in different sized tracheas.


The 7.5 mm internal diameter (ID) tracheal tube cuffs-Tapered Seal Guard (TSG), Standard Seal Guard (SSG), Hi-Lo, Microcuff, Ruesch, and Portex Profile-were compared in an in vitro apparatus. Vertical artificial tracheas with 16, 20, and 22 mm ID were intubated, 5 ml clear water was applied above the unlubricated tube cuffs, and fluid leakage was measured up to 60 min. Data of tapered vs non-tapered tube cuffs (16 observations) were compared for each tracheal diameter using the Mann-Whitney test.


Median (range) fluid leakage (ml) at 60 min was 2.14 (0.05-4.88), 1.14 (0.00-4.84), and 0.13 (0.00-1.32), respectively, for 16, 20, and 22 mm tracheas in the TSG tube studies when compared with 4.58 (0.44-4.88), 2.21 (0.00-4.81), and 0.00 (0.00-4.81) in the SSG tube and 4.54 (1.54-4.82), 0.90 (0.00-4.49), and 4.85 (4.40-4.99) in the Microcuff tube studies. Leakage in all polyvinylchloride (PVC) tube cuffs was almost complete (5 ml) within 5 min (P<0.001).


The tapered PU tube cuff was as effective as the cylindrical PU cuffs in smaller tracheal diameters and was more efficient than the cylindrical Microcuff PU tube cuff in larger tracheal diameter in preventing subglottic fluid leakage across the tube cuff tested in this in vitro study. PVC tube cuffs leaked much more and faster than PU cuffs.

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