A rare case of persistent air leak: beware of all the tubes

Int J Emerg Med. 2021 Sep 22;14(1):58. doi: 10.1186/s12245-021-00381-6.


Background: Patients with acute respiratory failure, impaired consciousness, and impaired airway reflexes will require invasive mechanical ventilation. Monitoring of such patients is important. The use of ventilator scalars and loops help in monitoring, diagnosing the abnormality, and treating the patients effectively. We report a rare cause one should suspect in a case of persistent and fixed air leak in a patient requiring mechanical ventilation.

Case presentation: We describe a 28-year-old young patient requiring ventilator support due to neuromuscular weakness. His neuromuscular weakness was rapidly progressing involving the respiratory muscles. The patient was intubated and put on mechanical ventilator support. He was transferred from another health care center to our hospital. On evaluation, the patient was intubated with ETT no 8. The patient had persistent air leak as observed on the ventilator graphics. We checked for ETT cuff malfunction, ventilator circuit, catheter mount, and HME for any disconnection causing the leak. The air leak which we observed in our patient was due to the malpositioned Ryle's tube.

Conclusions: Vigilant monitoring of patients requiring mechanical ventilation is necessary. For the evaluation of the cause of air leak, algorithmic approach will help in correctly identifying the abnormality.

Keywords: Air leak; Mechanical Ventilation; Neuromuscular weakness; Respiratory failure.