Clearance of Mucus from Endotracheal Tubes during Intratracheal Pulmonary Ventilation
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BACKGROUND: Intratracheal pulmonary ventilation (ITPV) is a form of tracheal gas insufflation in which all gas emerges in a cephalad direction from the tip of a reverse-thrust catheter positioned within an endotracheal tube. In vitro experiments have shown that this rapid gas flow, with 5 ml/h of normal saline added to the gas flow, continuously removes tracheal secretions from within the endotracheal tube. The authors evaluated its effectiveness to remove mucus in long-term studies in sheep. METHODS: Fourteen healthy sheep were tracheally intubated and ventilated for 3 days with ITPV or with volume-controlled ventilation. Measurements were made of the total amount of secretions within the endotracheal tubes (weight gain), the protein content within the endotracheal tubes, and the increase in resistance to constant air flow. The structure of the airways was examined grossly and histologically. Three additional sheep were ventilated for 24 h with ITPV, and Evans Blue dye was added to the saline to assess the distribution of the infused saline. RESULTS: There was significantly less mucus in endotracheal tubes of sheep ventilated with ITPV than with conventional ventilation, as shown by minimal weight gain (0.70 +/- 0.14 g vs. 2.44 +/- 0.81 g; P < 0.001), lower protein content (14.09 +/- 10.79 mg vs. 294.99 +/- 153.06 mg; P < 0.001), and lower resistance to constant air flow (6.15 +/- 0.54 cm H2O x 1(-1) x s(-1) vs. 15.34 +/- 5.28 cm H2O x 1(-1) x s(-1); P < 0.001). Results of gross and histological examinations of the tracheas of animals in both groups were similar, and the tracheas were well preserved. More than 95% of the instilled saline was recovered during ITPV. Only traces of Evans Blue dye were found near the tip of the endotracheal tubes. CONCLUSION: Intratracheal pulmonary ventilation makes it possible to keep the endotracheal tubes of sheep ventilated for 3 days free of mucus without suctioning.
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