Background: The placement of the endotracheal tube (ETT) in neonates is a challenging procedure that currently requires timely confirmation of tip placement by radiographic imaging.
Objective: We sought to determine if bedside ultrasound (US) could demonstrate ETT tip location in preterm and term newborns and offer a quick alternative method of ETT positioning.
Methods: We conducted a prospective pilot study of 30 newborns admitted to the UC San Diego Medical Center who had their ETT placement confirmed by chest radiographs. After a radiograph, each infant had a US exam with a 13-MHz linear transducer on a portable US machine. To assist localization, gentle longitudinal movement of the ETT of less than 0.5 cm was performed. Measurements from the tip of the ETT tip to the carina were made on chest radiograph and midsagittal US images.
Results: Study infants had a mean gestational age of 30.2 ± 4.9 (SD) weeks and mean birth weight of 1,595.2 ± 862 g. US images were taken a mean 2.9 ± 2.2 h after radiographs. Data from 2 infants were excluded for poor radiograph image quality and extreme outlier values. The ETT was visualized by US in all newborns examined. We observed a good correlation between ETT tip-to-carina distance on US and radiograph (r(2) = 0.68) with minimal bias. Each study took less than 5 min to obtain without any clinical deterioration.
Conclusions: Bedside US can visualize the anatomic position of the ETT position in preterm and term infants but further validation is required before routine clinical implementation.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.