Post-extubation stridor in intensive care unit patients. Risk factors evaluation and importance of the cuff-leak test

Intensive Care Med. 2003 Jan;29(1):69-74. doi: 10.1007/s00134-002-1563-4. Epub 2002 Nov 22.


Objective: To evaluate the incidence and identify factors associated with the occurrence of post-extubation stridor and to evaluate the performance of the cuff-leak test in detecting this complication.

Design: Prospective, clinical investigation.

Setting: Intensive care unit of a university hospital.

Patients: Hundred twelve extubations were analyzed in 112 patients during a 14-month period.

Intervention: A cuff-leak test before each extubation.

Measurements and results: The incidence of stridor was 12%. When we chose the thresholds of 130 ml and 12% to quantify the cuff-leak volume, the sensitivity and the specificity of the test were, respectively, 85% and 95%. The patients who developed stridor had a cuff leak significantly lower than the others, expressed in absolute values (372+/-170 vs 59+/-92 ml, p<0.001) or in relative values (56+/-20 vs 9+/-13%, p<0.001). Stridor was associated with an elevated Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS II), a medical reason for admission, a traumatic or difficult intubation, a history of self-extubation, an over-inflated balloon cuff at admission to ICU and a prolonged period of intubation. These results provide a framework with which to identify patients at risk of developing a stridor after extubation.

Conclusion: A low cuff-leak volume (<130 ml or 12%) around the endotracheal tube prior to extubation is useful in identifying patients at risk for post-extubation stridor.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / epidemiology
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Laryngeal Edema / etiology
  • Laryngeal Edema / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Manometry / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics, Nonparametric