Uncuffed endotracheal tubes traditionally have been preferred over cuffed endotracheal tubes in young pediatric patients. However, recent evidence in elective pediatric surgical populations suggests otherwise. Because young pediatric burn patients can pose unique airway and ventilation challenges, we reviewed adverse events associated with the perioperative use of cuffed and uncuffed endotracheal tubes. We retrospectively reviewed 327 cases of operating room endotracheal intubation for general anesthesia in burned children 0-10 years of age over a 10-year period. Clinical airway outcomes were compared using multivariable logistic regression, controlling for relevant patient and injury characteristics. Compared to those receiving cuffed tubes, children receiving uncuffed tubes were significantly more likely to demonstrate clinically significant loss of tidal volume (odds ratio 10.62, 95% confidence interval 2.2-50.5) and require immediate reintubation to change tube size/type (odds ratio 5.54, 95% confidence interval 2.1-13.6). No significant differences were noted for rates of post-extubation stridor. Our data suggest that operating room use of uncuffed endotracheal tubes in such patients is associated with increased rates of tidal volume loss and reintubation. Due to the frequent challenge of airway management in this population, strategies should emphasize cuffed endotracheal tube use that is associated with lower rates of airway manipulation.
2009 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.