An evaluation of a blind rotational technique for selective mainstem intubation

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6 Scopus citations


Although rare, massive hemoptysis and major bronchial disruptions are associated with high mortality. Selective ventilation of the uninvolved lung can increase the likelihood of survival. Specialized devices used for single lung ventilation are often not readily available and can be difficult to place in the emergency department. The authors evaluated a blind rotational technique for selective mainstem intubation using either a standard endotracheal tube (ET) or a directional-tip endotracheal tube (DTET).This was a prospective, randomized trial on 25 human cadavers. The desired side of mainstem intubation was determined by randomization. Each cadaver was used for four ET, four DTET, and four control intubations. In the ET group, the trachea was intubated. The tube was then rotated 90°in the direction of the desired placement and advanced until resistance was met. In the DTET group, the technique was identical, except the trigger was activated to flex the tip during advancement. In the control group, an ET was advanced in neutral alignment until resistance was met. A bronchoscopist blinded to the desired placement determined tube position. Comparison testing was performed using Pearson's chi-square test.When attempting to intubate the left mainstem, use of the ET with the rotational technique was successful 72.3% of the time (95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 57% to 84%). Intubation of the left mainstem using the DTET was successful 68.5% of the time (95% CI = 54% to 81%; p = 0.67). Attempts to selectively intubate the right mainstem using the rotational technique were highly successful in both groups: 94% for the ET (95% CI = 84% to 99%) versus 97.8% for the DTET (95% CI = 89% to 100%). Among controls, the right mainstem was intubated 93% of the time (95% CI = 86% to 97%).In a cadaveric model, the left mainstem bronchus can be selectively intubated with moderate reliability using this rotational technique. Use of a DTET confers no significant advantage. The ability to generalize these findings to living subjects is unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1107
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • endotracheal tube
  • intubation
  • lung isolation
  • mainstem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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