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Can J Anaesth. 2015 Apr;62(4):413-23. doi: 10.1007/s12630-014-0301-z. Epub 2014 Dec 24.

Transtracheal ultrasound for verification of endotracheal tube placement: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Nazareth Hospital, Shillong, 793003, Meghalaya, India,



Early confirmation of endotracheal tube placement is of paramount importance to prevent hypoxia and its catastrophic consequences. Despite certain limitations, capnography is considered the gold standard to evaluate the proper placement of an endotracheal tube. Ultrasound is a novel tool with some definitive advantages over capnography. It enables a real-time view and can be performed quickly; furthermore, it is independent of pulmonary blood flow and does not require lung ventilation. In this review, we aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of transtracheal ultrasound in detecting endotracheal intubation.


We completed an extensive search of MEDLINE®, EMBASE™, The Cochrane Library, KoreaMed, LILACS, OpenGrey, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry from their inception to September 4, 2014. The studies that met the inclusion criteria were pooled and a meta-analysis was conducted.


Eleven studies and 969 intubations were included in the final analysis. Eight studies and 713 intubations were performed in emergency situations and the others were carried out in elective situations. Transtracheal ultrasonography's pooled sensitivity and specificity with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were 0.98 (95% CI 0.97 to 0.99) and 0.98 (95% CI 0.95 to 0.99), respectively. In emergency scenarios, transtracheal ultrasonography showed an aggregate sensitivity and specificity of 0.98 (95% CI 0.97 to 0.99) and 0.94 (95% CI 0.86 to 0.98), respectively.


Transtracheal ultrasound is a useful tool to confirm endotracheal intubation with an acceptable degree of sensitivity and specificity. It can be used in emergency situations as a preliminary test before final confirmation by capnography.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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