Home Insect Allergies Neonatal/Pediatric Endotracheal Suctioning | RT

Neonatal/Pediatric Endotracheal Suctioning | RT


Endotracheal suctioning is among the mostly carried out NICU/PICU interventions however the apply requires particular take care of neonatal and pediatric airways. 

By Lisa Spear

Endotracheal suctioning is a typical intervention within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), however the apply requires particular take care of the a lot smaller and extra delicate airways, defined Suhas G. Kallapur, MD, chief of the Divisions of Neonatology and Developmental Biology at David Geffen Faculty of Drugs at UCLA.

Despite the fact that endotracheal suctioning is an efficient technique for clearing secretions from the airway and a vital process for intubated youngsters, the apply continues to be typically poorly understood, with restricted analysis confined to adults and preterm infants.1

Nonetheless, there are lots of ways in which respiratory therapists and different healthcare suppliers can reduce potential hurt. By working rigorously with the fragile airways of those sufferers, clinicians can stop stimulation to the vagal nerve—stimulation that may happen throughout endotracheal suctioning. If the tube is positioned incorrectly, the nerve stimulation can result in a cascade of adverse downstream penalties, together with bradycardia, arrythmia, and hypoxemia. A talented clinician can keep away from such outcomes in the event that they take the best precautions when managing pediatrics and neonates. 

Above all, to attenuate hurt, “it’s important to be mild with all the things you do,” stated Tim Strom, RRT-NPS, AE-C, neonatal and pediatric respiratory remedy supervisor at UCLA Medical Middle in Los Angeles. In some instances, clinicians can bypass endotracheal tube suctioning altogether by utilizing different strategies to clear the airways, together with chest physiotherapy strategies that use vibrations or to maneuver secretions from the airways. Small handheld non-invasive units can complement this course of to clear the higher airways.

When to Carry out Endotracheal Suctioning

Step one is to know when to suction since you don’t wish to over-suction the affected person. As wanted suctioning versus performing suctioning on a set schedule is suggested by the newest tips launched in February from the American Affiliation for Respiratory Care (AARC).

First, the AARC instructs to pay attention for breath sounds.2 Is there crackling or rattling when the affected person inhales? Are there different indications of audible secretions? Is the sound totally different on simply the best or the left facet of the chest?

Then, discover any visible proof of mucus. Are secretions arising the endotracheal tube? Visible secretions within the synthetic airway, in addition to a sawtooth sample on the ventilator waveform are indicators for suctioning pediatric and grownup sufferers, the AARC tips state.

These components are all essential to consider when deciding whether or not to maneuver ahead, stated Robert Menchaca, NICU respiratory supervisor at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston, Texas, the place he at the moment manages a 40-bed unit. 

“You wish to suction solely when the child requires it, when the child is asking to be suctioned, and the best way that you understand that’s by listening to their breath sounds,” Menchaca stated. “Generally you possibly can simply put your hand on the child’s chest and you’ll simply really feel that they’re very tenacious in secretions.”

Pay Shut Consideration to Catheter Dimension and Suction Stress

If there’s trigger to maneuver ahead with endotracheal tube suctioning, analysis has indicated that catheter measurement and suction stress must be thought-about in relation to one another, in accordance with a assessment paper within the Journal of Pediatric Intensive Care.3

“You wish to have the correct measurement suction catheter. You don’t need the suction catheter to suit too tight as a result of then it creates a stronger suction and it may possibly really collapse elements of the lungs, so that you wish to be very cautious to not have too giant of a catheter,” stated Menchaca. Over time, most clinicians who often carry out suctioning will get a really feel for the totally different catheter sizes and the method will turn into extra intuitive.

‘Know Your Catheters’

Total, to attenuate discomfort in your affected person, it helps to familiarize your self with the accessible catheters. “Know your catheter. Know the model of catheter that you’re utilizing. They don’t seem to be all one sure size. Sure producers may need totally different dimensions of an elbow connector or totally different dimensions of the Y connector. If we as a clinician have no idea how far to insert that catheter, we’re going to enhance the chance of inflicting discomfort and stimulation,” defined James Donegan, RRT, scientific useful resource supervisor at Medline Industries.

Particular eventualities would possibly name for various catheter sorts. For instance, when working with an toddler with a trach tube, most clinicians would possibly discover that an elbow model connector works higher for these sufferers.

“Why that’s actually essential to speak about it’s that if we don’t know what these bodily traits are of the totally different catheter sorts, we’re actually guessing so far as how far to insert it,” defined Donegan. “Briefly, we frequently don’t know if now we have inserted too far till now we have stimulated a vagal response, which has trigger hypertension, a bradycardic episode, triggered a speedy change of their oxygen degree, avoiding that downside earlier than it turns into one could be very large and I feel it simply begins with simply understanding what the bodily traits are of the catheter kind you might be utilizing.” 

Keep away from Going Too Deep

At all times preserve your eye on how deep the endotracheal tube goes. Strom stated, “lots of people will overlook the suction depth of how deep you’re going with the catheters.”

The endotracheal tubes have numbers on them to point how deep in centimeters the tube is shifting into the airway. As an example, if the endotracheal tube is taped at 8 centimeters on the lip, the catheter will even have one other marking of what number of centimeters that may match the quantity on the tube. After they match up, that signifies that the catheter is on the tip of the endotracheal tube and you’ll start suctioning.

“If I’m speaking with a model new respiratory therapist grad, one factor I wish to share is that you simply don’t wish to move the ET tube if you’re doing endotracheal suctioning, you wish to keep inside the ET tube since you are suctioning out the ET tube, you aren’t suctioning out the lungs,” stated Menchaca, who has labored at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System for greater than 37 years.

Because the depth of suction will increase, so does the chance of trauma to the airway. “Should you go outdoors the endotracheal tube while you suction neonates, their tissue could be very fragile. You don’t wish to trigger hurt to the child by suctioning them too deep since you might really trigger a tear within the lung wall,” stated Menchaca.

Moreover, every time you might be placing a catheter down an endotracheal tube when attempting to take away secretions, you might be additionally sucking out all their air as properly, which may result in a lower in oxygenation and air flow.

To organize for endotracheal suctioning, Strom stated, he and his staff at UCLA Well being will administer a small quantity of oxygen. Usually, they are going to give 10% fraction of impressed oxygen (FiO2) to neonates earlier than starting the process.

Not like in grownup sufferers, healthcare suppliers must be very vigilant of potential oxygen toxicity in infants. If given too excessive a dose of oxygen, these infants might expertise severe well being penalties, defined Donegan.

Additionally, Strom stated, “Generally we’ll put saline down there to lavage it and assist loosen up the secretions. I sometimes will solely do it if I do know I’ve lots of thick secretions.” 

Then, he would possibly give the sufferers handbook breath utilizing the ventilator. Each ventilator has a button that stated handbook breaths. If you push that button, and then you definitely give them some additional breaths, you might be additionally blowing off carbon dioxide whereas rising the imply airway stress. “That offers them a bit of little bit of oxygen reserves, so after we do suction them, we hopefully received’t derecruit their lungs a lot,” Strom stated. 

Give attention to An infection Management

When administering care, additionally it is important to pay shut consideration to an infection management protocols. At Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston, the clinicians use in-line suction catheters, that are related to the ventilator circuit to introduce the catheter. It’s a closed system, which helps with the prevention of an infection, stated Menchaca. At UCLA Medical Middle, clinicians are educated to vary the suction canister, the suction tubing, and the sufferers’ in-line catheters on their endotracheal tubes each 24 hours. 

Total, it doesn’t matter what the age of your affected person, the method will turn into simpler the extra expertise you will have and the extra you familiarize with the mandatory gear.


Lisa Spear is affiliate editor of RT journal. For more information, please contact [email protected]


  1. Tume LN, Copnell B. Endotracheal Suctioning of the Critically Sick Little one. J Pediatr Intensive Care. 2015 Jun;4(2):56-63.
  2. Blakeman TC, et al. AARC Medical Observe Pointers: Synthetic Airway Suctioning. Respir Care. 2022 Feb;67(2):258-271. 
  3. Tume LN, Copnell B. Endotracheal Suctioning of the Critically Sick Little one. J Pediatr Intensive Care. 2015 Jun;4(2):56-63.