The use of the air leak test and corticosteroids in intubated children: a survey of pediatric critical care fellowship directors

Respir Care. 2002 Jun;47(6):662-6.


Introduction: Uncertainties exist regarding the value of the air leak test or use of steroids for preventing post-extubation stridor and extubation failure in children.

Objective: Determine the practice preferences of pediatric critical care physicians regarding the air leak test and administration of glucocorticosteroids to prevent airway edema.

Methods: A 14-question survey regarding the value of the air leak test, use of glucocorticosteroids, and management of airway edema in intubated children was sent to all North American pediatric critical care fellowship directors affiliated with medical school teaching hospitals.

Results: The response rate was 85% (58/68). Seventy-six percent (44/58) routinely check for air leak prior to extubation. The physicians who check for air leak were more likely to delay extubation in order to administer glucocorticosteroids (60% [26/43] vs 15% [2/13], p = 0.01). An air leak of >or= 30 cm H(2)O was more likely (than >or= 20 cm H(2)O) to result in delaying extubation (95% [35/37] vs 51% [19/37], p <0.001). Of the respondents who use steroids for airway edema prophylaxis, 73% (24/33) give steroids based on the air leak test.

Conclusions: The majority of surveyed pediatric critical care fellowship program directors rely on the air leak test and use corticosteroids to prevent post-extubation stridor and extubation failure. At an air leak of >or= 30 cm H(2)O most of the surveyed physicians would delay extubation and initiate glucocorticosteroids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Child
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / adverse effects
  • Laryngeal Edema / diagnosis
  • Laryngeal Edema / etiology
  • Laryngeal Edema / therapy*
  • Pediatrics
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Respiratory Sounds* / etiology


  • Glucocorticoids