Background: Modern concepts for sedation and analgesia and guidelines recommend light analgesia and sedation, so that patients on mechanically ventilation are more awake, compared to previous concepts. Hence, these patients are more alert and able to experience their situation on the ventilator and their endotracheal tube (ETT).
Problem: There is currently no convincing evidence of how patients tolerate the tube under present conditions, which interventions could help them, or whether they want to be sedated deeper because of the tube. Based upon our own observations, a broad range of reactions are possible.
Purpose: The tolerance of the ETT in intensive care patients was explored.
Method: A systematic literature research without time constraints in the databases PubMed and CINAHL was performed. Included were quantitative and qualitative studies written in German or English that investigated tolerance of the ETT in adult intensive care patients. Excluded were anesthetic studies including in- and extubation immediately before and after operations.
Results: Of the 2348 hits, 14 studies were included, including 4 qualitative studies about the experience of intensive care, 8 quantitative studies including 2 randomized controlled studies, and 2 studies with a mixed approach. Within the studies different aspects could be identified, which may in- or decrease the tolerance of an ETT. Aspects like breathlessness, pain during endotracheal suctioning and inability to speak decrease the tolerance. Information, the presence of relatives and early mobilization appear to increase the tolerance.
Conclusion: Tolerance of the ETT is a complex phenomenon. A reflected and critical evaluation of the behavior of the patient with an ETT is recommended. Interventions that increase the tolerance of the ETT should be adapted to the situation of the patient and should be evaluated daily.