Best Practice in Stabilisation of Oral Endotracheal Tubes: A Systematic Review

Aust Crit Care. 2005 Nov;18(4):158, 160-5. doi: 10.1016/s1036-7314(05)80029-3.


Mechanical ventilation of patients in intensive care units is common practice. Artificial airways are utilised to facilitate ventilation and the endotracheal tube (ETT) is most commonly used for this purpose. The ETT must be stabilised to optimise ventilation and avoid displacement or unplanned extubation. Tube movement is a major factor in causing airway trauma. A destabilised tube can cause fatal complications. A systematic review was conducted to identify and analyse the best available evidence on ETT stabilisation to determine which stabilisation method resulted in reduced tube displacement and the least amount of unplanned or accidental extubations. The types of stabilisations included one or a combination of the following methods: twill or cotton tape, adhesive tape, gauze, or a manufactured device. All relevant randomised controlled and quasi-experimental studies of ETT stabilisation practices, identified through electronic and hand searching, were assessed for inclusion in the study. One published randomised controlled trial and six published quasi-experimental studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and were retrieved. Data were extracted independently by two reviewers. Results of the systematic review showed that no single method of ETT stabilisation could be identified as superior for minimising tube displacement and unplanned or accidental extubations. Rigorous randomised controlled trials with clearly identified and described ETT stabilisation methods are required to establish best practice. In addition, comparative research to evaluate cost effectiveness and nursing time requirements would also be of significant benefit to critical care nursing practice.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bandages / adverse effects
  • Bandages / economics
  • Bandages / standards*
  • Benchmarking / organization & administration*
  • Clinical Nursing Research / organization & administration*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Critical Care / economics
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Care / standards
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / organization & administration
  • Facial Injuries / epidemiology
  • Facial Injuries / etiology
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / nursing*
  • Lip / injuries
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research Design
  • Skin Care / economics
  • Skin Care / instrumentation
  • Skin Care / nursing
  • Surgical Tape / adverse effects
  • Surgical Tape / ethics
  • Surgical Tape / standards*
  • Workload