Hypoxic Respiratory Failure Further Complicated During Airway Exchange Catheter Placement

J Crit Care Med (Targu Mures). 2020 Aug 11;6(3):186-189. doi: 10.2478/jccm-2020-0023. eCollection 2020 Jul.


Introduction: An airway exchange catheter is a hollow-lumen tube able to deliver oxygen and maintain access to a difficult endotracheal airway. This case report demonstrates an undocumented complication associated with an airway exchange catheter and jet ventilation, particularly in a patient with reduced airway diameter due to thick endotracheal secretions. Due to the frequent use of airway exchange catheters in the intensive care unit, this report highlights an adverse event of bilateral pneumothoraces that can be encountered by clinicians.

Case presentation: This case report describes a 24-year-old female with severe adult respiratory distress syndrome and thick endotra-cheal secretions whose hospital course was complicated by bilateral pneumothoraces resulting from the use of an airway exchange catheter connected to jet ventilation. During the exchange, the catheter occluded the narrowed endotracheal tube to create a one-way valve that led to excessive lung inflation.

Conclusion: Airway exchange catheters used with jet ventilation in a patient with a narrowed endotracheal tube and reduced lung compliance have the potential risk of causing a pneumothorax. Clinicians should avoid temporary concomitant oxygenation via jet ventilation in patients with these findings and reserve the use of airway exchange catheters for difficult airways.

Keywords: airway exchange catheter; jet ventilation; pneumothorax.