Lau AC, Lam SM, Yan WW.; Hong Kong Med J. 2013 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVES. To compare three endotracheal tubes for leakage across the cuff (microaspiration) under a comprehensive set of simulated clinical situations. These were the Mallinckrodt TaperGuard (Covidien, US) with a tapered polyvinyl chloride cuff; the KimVent Microcuff (Kimberly-Clark Health Care, US) with a cylindrical polyurethane cuff, and a conventional Portex (Smiths Medical International Ltd, UK) with a globular polyvinyl chloride cuff.

DESIGN. A benchtop experimental study.

SETTING AND MATERIALS. A silicone cylinder serving as the model trachea was intubated with each of the three endotracheal tubes, one at a time. A total of 20 mL of water were added above the cuff and leakage measured every minute for 20 minutes under five simulated mechanical ventilation scenarios, including different positive end-expiratory pressure levels, and disconnection with and without spontaneous breathing efforts. Each scenario was studied under three cuff pressures of 10, 20 and 30 cm H2O, and then repeated with the application of a continuous suction force of 200 cm H2O, and leakage measured every minute for 3 minutes.

RESULTS. The outcome of interest was the cumulative amount of leakage. The Microcuff endotracheal tubes with an ultrathin polyurethane cuff consistently provided the best protection against microaspiration under all simulated clinical situations, followed by TaperGuard with a tapered cuff, and lastly Portex with a globular polyvinyl chloride cuff. Clinical scenarios associated with the greatest leakage were mechanical ventilation with zero positive end-expiratory pressure, circuit disconnection with spontaneous breathing efforts, application of suction, and a low cuff pressure.

CONCLUSIONS. Microcuff endotracheal tubes outperformed TaperGuard and Portex endotracheal tubes in preventing microaspiration, which is one of the major mechanisms for ventilator-associated pneumonia.

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