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Objective: To measure endotracheal tube intraluminal volume loss among mechanically ventilated patients.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Setting: Medical intensive care unit (19 beds) of an urban university-affiliated teaching hospital.

Patients: A total of 101 patients with acute respiratory failure requiring >24 hrs of mechanical ventilation.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and Main Results: Acoustic reflectometry was employed to measure the intraluminal volume of 13-cm endotracheal tube segments. The endotracheal tube segment volumes were statistically smaller among endotracheal tubes used in patients compared with unused endotracheal tubes (5.4 /- 0.7 vs. 6.0 /- 0.6 mL, p < .001). The average percentage difference in endotracheal tube segment volumes, between the unused endotracheal tubes and the endotracheal tubes used in patients, was 9.8% (range, 0-45.5%). The percentage difference in the endotracheal tube segment volumes increased significantly with increasing duration of tracheal intubation (r2 = .766, p < .001). The minimum diameter of the endotracheal tube segments was also statistically smaller among endotracheal tubes used in patients compared with the unused endotracheal tubes (7.5 /- 0.4 vs. 6.7 /- 1.2 mm, p < .001).

Conclusions: Endotracheal tube intraluminal volume loss is common among patients with acute respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation and increases with prolonged tracheal intubation.

(C) 2004 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins