Cuffed endotracheal tubes in pediatric intensive care

J Pediatr. 1994 Jul;125(1):57-62. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(94)70121-0.


We prospectively studied 282 consecutive tracheal intubations (243 patients) in a pediatric intensive care unit during a 7-month period to compare cuffed and uncuffed endotracheal tube (ETT) utilization and outcome. The incidence of postextubation stridor in each ETT group was the major outcome measure after controlling for various patient risk factors. Patients whose ETTs were inserted in the operating room, who were less than 1 year of age, or who had ETTs in place for less than 72 hours were more likely to have had insertion of an uncuffed ETT. Patients whose ETTs were inserted in the emergency department or who were more than 5 years of age were more likely to have had insertion of a cuffed ETT. Those who had a cuffed ETT were older (mean 8.1 vs 2.5 years) and had ETTs in place longer (mean 6.1 vs 3.7 days) than patients with an uncuffed ETT. Of the 188 patients who subsequently had removal of their ETTs, the overall incidence of postextubation stridor was 14.9%, with no significant difference between the two ETT groups even after controlling for patient age, duration of intubation, trauma, leak around ETT before extubation, and pediatric risk of mortality score. Two patients in the cuffed ETT group and four patients in the uncuffed ETT group required reintubation for severe postextubation stridor. Long-term follow-up identified 33 patients (17%) who required hospital readmission. None of these was admitted with an upper airway problem. Two patients who previously had insertion of a cuffed ETT subsequently received tracheostomies for the primary purpose of long-term mechanical ventilation unrelated to any problem with the upper airway. We conclude that cuffed endotracheal intubation is not associated with an increased risk of postextubation stridor or significant long-term sequelae.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome