Predictive Value of Tracheal Rapid Ultrasound Exam Performed in the Emergency Department for Verification of Tracheal Intubation

Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2017 Jun 17;5(5):618-623. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2017.072. eCollection 2017 Aug 15.


Background: Verification of the correct placement of the endotracheal tube (ETT) has been one of the most challenging issues of airway management in the field of emergency medicine. Early detection of oesophagal intubation through a reliable method is important for emergency physicians.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy of tracheal rapid ultrasound exam (TRUE) to assess endotracheal tube misplacement during emergency intubation.

Methods: This was an observational prospective study performed in the emergency department of the major tertiary referral hospital in the city. We included a consecutive selection of 100 patients. TRUE was performed for all these patients, and subsequently, quantitative waveform capnography was done. The later test is considered as the gold standard.

Results: From our total 100 eligible patients, 93 (93%) participants had positive TRUE results (tracheal intubation) and 7 (7%) patients have negative TRUE results (esophageal intubation). Quantitative waveform capnography report of all 93 (100%) patients who had positive TRUE was positive (appropriate tracheal placement). Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) of TRUE for detecting appropriate tracheal placement of ETT were 98.9% (95% CI, 93.3% to 99.8%), 100% (95% CI, 51.6% to 100%), 100% (95% CI, 95.1% to 100%) and 85.7% (95% CI, 42% to 99.2%) respectively.

Conclusions: Performing TRUE is convenient and feasible in many emergency departments and pre-hospital settings. We would recommend emergency units explore the possibility of using TRUE as a method in the assessment of proper ETT placement.

Keywords: emergencies; intubation; trachea; ultrasonography.