Ideal endotracheal tube insertion depth in neonates with a birthweight less than 750 g

Pediatr Int. 2020 Aug;62(8):932-936. doi: 10.1111/ped.14245. Epub 2020 Jul 19.


Background: Appropriate management of the endotracheal tube (ETT) insertion depth is important. The depth calculated using Tochen's formula is overestimated in extremely-low- birthweight infants, particularly those with a birthweight <750 g. Gestational age has been shown to be particularly useful in the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, 7th edition.5 However, a randomized trial for estimating the ETT insertion depth failed to show the advantage of using gestational age over birthweight.6 Therefore, we aimed to estimate the appropriate ETT insertion depth in neonates weighing <750 g.

Methods: This was a single-center, retrospective observational study including neonates weighing <750 g who required intubation. The appropriate depth was determined by adjusting the distance between the actual ETT position and the area from the first to the second thoracic vertebra on the radiograph. Correlations between gestational age and physique were investigated using Pearson's correlation coefficient. We examined small-for- gestational-age (SGA) infants and non-SGA infants separately.

Results: Forty neonates were enrolled in this study. The mean gestational age and birthweight were 26.3 weeks and 620 g respectively. Twenty infants were SGA. The ETT position was deep in 35 of 40 cases, with the strongest correlation between weight and ETT insertion depth. The correlation with gestational age was not observed in this study.

Conclusions: Our study showed that the ideal ETT insertion depth at birth correlates with birthweight in neonates weighing <750 g. Therefore, determination by gestational age may not be feasible in populations with a high proportion of SGA infants.

Keywords: birthweight; extremely low birthweight; gestational age; intubation; radiography.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Birth Weight
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Radiography / methods
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trachea / diagnostic imaging