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Anesth Analg. 1997 Mar;84(3):533-7.

Efficacy of the self-inflating bulb in differentiating esophageal from tracheal intubation in the parturient undergoing cesarean section.

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Department of Anesthesiology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.


We studied the efficacy of the self-inflating bulb (SIB) in differentiating tracheal from esophageal intubation in 40 parturients undergoing elective cesarean section under general anesthesia. After induction and muscle relaxation, the trachea was intubated under direct vision with cuffed tube. In 20 parturients, the esophagus was also intubated with an identical tube. Before ventilation was initiated, an independent anesthesiologist checked tube positions with the SIB using two techniques. In one technique (T1), the SIB was compressed before connection to the tube; in the other technique (T2), the SIB was first connected to the tube and then compressed. The speed of reinflation was graded as rapid, delayed, and none. Tracheal tube position was reassessed immediately before and after delivery. Before initiation of controlled ventilation, the incidence of false negative results was 47.5% with T1 and 27.5% with T2 but significantly decreased to 17.5% with T1 and 7.5% with T2 when retested before delivery. After delivery, no false negative results occurred. The incidence of false positive results immediately after induction was 30% with T1 and 35% with T2. The mechanism of false negative responses may be attributed to decreased functional residual capacity leading to reduced caliber of intrathoracic airways and terminal airway closure; whereas false positive responses may be related to an incompetent gastroesophageal junction. We conclude that the SIB is unreliable for differentiating tracheal from esophageal intubation in the parturient undergoing cesarean section.

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