Background: The leak test is an accepted practice for evaluating airway edema and patient readiness for extubation. Reproducibility and interobserver reliability for this test have not been established. We studied the reproducibility and reliability of the leak test in and among health care professionals.
Methods: Thirteen consecutive intubated patients were tested in triplicate and in blinded fashion by three observers to determine the leak around the endotracheal tube before extubation. All patients were pharmacologically paralyzed and sedated before assessment.
Results: Neither interobserver or intraobserver variability was statistically significant when a standardized method was used to determine the leak.
Conclusion: The leak test is reliable by the same or different observers regardless of varied clinical experience when using a standardized approach to measuring the leak.