Warning! Suctioning. A lung model evaluation of closed suctioning systems

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2001 Feb;45(2):167-72. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-6576.2001.450206.x.


Background: Closed system suctioning, CSS, has been advocated to avoid alveolar collapse. However, ventilator manufacturers indicate that extreme negative pressure levels can be obtained during closed system suctioning, impeding the performance of the ventilator.

Methods: Suctioning with a 12 or 14 Fr catheter with a vacuum level of -50 kPa was either performed with an open technology or a CSS, where the catheter is introduced through a tight-fitting connection through the endotracheal tube, EYT. The lung model was ventilated with a Servo 900C or 300 ventilator with an I:E ratio of 1:2, 1:1 and 2:1 and extrinsic positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) at 0 or 10 cm H20. Respiratory volumes and alveolar pressure were measured at the lung model alveolus.

Results: The initial suctioning flow was >40 l/min with a 14 Fr catheter. When inserting the catheter through a no. 7 ETT, PEEP rose from 11 to 23 cm H2O during volume control ventilation with an I:E ratio 1:1. During suctioning the alveolar pressure fell to 10 cm H2O below the set PEEP level. CSS during pressure control ventilation had fewer effects. Low tidal volumes, inverse I:E ratio and secretions in the tube resulted in pressures down to -92 cm H2O.

Conclusion: CSS should not be used in volume control ventilation due to risk of high intrinsic PEEP levels at insertion of the catheter and extreme negative pressures during suctioning. Pressure control ventilation produces less intrinsic PEEP effect. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mode offers the least intrinsic PEEP during insertion of the catheter and least sub-atmospheric pressure during suctioning.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pressure
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Suction / adverse effects*
  • Suction / instrumentation
  • Ventilators, Mechanical