Selective left endobronchial suctioning in the intubated patient

Edward A Panacek, Timothy E Albertson, W. F. Rutherford, C. J. Fisher, G. E. Foulke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Sectioning of secretions from the left endobronchial tree is frequently necessary but often difficult in intubated patients. We examined the effectiveness of a catheter designed expressly for this purpose. Special curved tip (Bronchitrac-L) suction catheters were fitted with thin, radiopaque tubing to facilitate x-ray visualization. Eighty-one attempts at left endobronchial placement were made on 74 stable adult intensive care unit patients. The suction catheter was inserted into the oral endotracheal tube or tracheostomy tube just prior to an x-ray filming of the chest. In 15 of 66 patients, the tip of the oral endotracheal tube was too distal (<2 cm above the carina) to allow proper functioning of the catheter. Patients with a properly positioned oral endotracheal tube were analyzed separately and showed 56 percent of the catheters went to the left bronchus. When the head was turned to the left prior to placement, successful left bronchus placement occurred in 65 percent. When the catheter was placed through a tracheostomy tube, 100 percent went into the left bronchus (n = 15). There were no catheter-induced complications in this study. The curved tip catheter is an effective means of suctioning the left bronchial tree in patients with tracheostomy tubes. Its reliability in patients with oral endotracheal tubes is reduced but more effective than current methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)885-887
Number of pages3
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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