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Crit Care Med. 1988 Sep;16(9):884-7.

Use of flexible fiberoptic endoscopy for determination of endotracheal tube position in the pediatric patient.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Flexible fiberoptic endoscopy (FFE) was utilized in a series of 24 critically ill pediatric patients to determine the position of the endotracheal tube (ETT) tip relative to the carina. Training on a model system revealed no significant differences in predicting ETT-to-carina distance (ETT-C) with respect to operator, ETT size, or absolute ETT-C as measured directly. No significant differences in ETT-C could be determined between traditional bedside chest x-ray (CXR) or FFE when FFE was performed on intubated pediatric ICU patients. A correlation coefficient comparing the two methods was 0.767. Neither ETT size nor FFE operator affected this correlation. Although used as the gold standard, CXR failed to demonstrate the carina clearly in 15 patients. FFE delineated the carina clearly in 22 patients. Ability to visualize ETT placement within the trachea was essentially identical for FFE (22/24) compared to CXR (23/24). However, the time required to obtain this information was significantly different: 30.6 min (range 13 to 57) for CXR; 40 sec (range 16 to 94) for FFE. No clinically significant changes in patient pulse oximetry, heart rate, or physical exam were observed during FFE. Only copious secretions impaired the utility of FFE. We concluded that FFE is a safe, fast, easily learned method to determine relative ETT position or precise ETT-C in the mechanically ventilated pediatric patient.

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