Changes in intracuff pressure of a cuffed endotracheal tube during prolonged surgical procedures

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2015 Jan;79(1):76-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2014.11.017. Epub 2014 Nov 24.


Background: With the introduction of redesigned cuffed endotracheal tubes (ETTs), there has been an increasing trend toward their use in pediatric patients. Despite improvements in design, an unintended and prolonged hyperinflation of the cuff can compromise tracheal mucosal perfusion. The current study prospectively monitors changes in intracuff pressure continuously in pediatric patients undergoing prolonged surgical procedures.

Methods: The study was conducted on pediatric patients who were scheduled to undergo prolonged surgical procedures (more than 4h) with a cuffed ETT. After placement of the cuffed ETT, the cuff was inflated using the air-leak test with a CPAP of 20cmH2O in the anesthesia circuit. After inflation, the inflating port of the pilot balloon was connected to the transducer of the invasive pressure monitoring device using our previously described technique to continuously measure the intracuff pressure. Measurements were recorded every 15min for the first 1h, and then every 30min throughout the surgical procedure.

Results: The study cohort included 30 patients who ranged in age from 1.2 to 17.6 years and in weight from 9.4 to 113.4kg. There were 16 boys and 14 girls. The size of the cuffed ETT ranged from 3.5mm to 8.0mm ID. The baseline intracuff pressure at the time of inflation was 17.6±8.8cmH2O. The absolute change in the intraoperative intracuff pressure when compared to the baseline intracuff pressure ranged from -25.8 to +16.3cmH2O. In 9 patients (30%), the decrease of the intracuff pressure was ≥10cmH2O. In 6 patients (20%), the increase of the intracuff pressure was ≥10cmH2O. In 5 of 30 patients (17%), the absolute intracuff pressure was greater than 30cmH2O at least once intraoperatively. In no patient, did the intracuff pressure remain the same as the baseline throughout the procedure.

Conclusion: We noted significant variations in the intracuff pressure during prolonged surgical procedures. These unintended changes, both increases and decreases, may impact the perioperative course of patients. Our study suggests the need for continuously monitoring intracuff pressure if a cuffed ETT is used in children for prolonged surgical procedures.

Keywords: Airway management; Intraoperative monitoring; Intubation, Endotracheal; Pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Intraoperative
  • Operative Time
  • Pressure*
  • Prospective Studies