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Ann Intensive Care. 2012 Nov 7;2(1):45. doi: 10.1186/2110-5820-2-45.

Effect of tracheal suctioning on aspiration past the tracheal tube cuff in mechanically ventilated patients.

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Intensive Care Unit, Centre Hospitalier Roanne, 28 rue de Charlieu, 42328, Roanne, France.



This clinical study evaluated the effect of a suctioning maneuver on aspiration past the cuff during mechanical ventilation.


Patients intubated for less than 48 hours with a PVC-cuffed tracheal tube, under mechanical ventilation with a PEEP ≥5 cm H2O and under continuous sedation, were included in the study. At baseline the cuff pressure was set at 30 cm H2O. Then 0.5ml of blue dye diluted with 3 ml of saline was instilled into the subglottic space just above the cuff. Tracheal suctioning was performed using a 16-French suction catheter with a suction pressure of - 400 mbar. A fiberoptic bronchoscopy was performed before and after the suctioning maneuver, looking for the presence of blue dye in the folds within the cuff wall or in the trachea under the cuff. The sealing of the cuff was defined by the absence of leakage of blue dye either in the cuff wall or in the trachea under the cuff.


Twenty-five patients were included. The size of the tracheal tube was 7-mm ID for 5 patients, 7.5-mm ID for 16 patients, and 8-mm ID for four patients. Blue dye was never seen in the trachea under the cuff before suctioning and only in one patient (4%) after the suctioning maneuver. Blue dye was observed in the folds within the cuff wall in 6 of 25 patients before suctioning and 11 of 25 after (p = 0.063). Overall, the incidence of sealing of the cuff was 76% before suctioning and 56% after (p = 0.073).


In patients intubated with a PVC-cuffed tracheal tube and under mechanical ventilation with PEEP ≥5 cm H2O and a cuff pressure set at 30 cm H2O, a single tracheal suctioning maneuver did not increase the risk of aspiration in the trachea under the cuff.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:, number NCT01170156.

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