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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 303-304

Defective endotracheal tube: Undetected by routine inspection

1 Assistant Professor & I/C Cardiac Anesthesia, Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Hi-Tec Medical College & Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Ashok K Badamali
Plot no 34 (B),Ground Floor, VIP area, Nayapalli, Bhubaneswar - 751 015, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1658-354X.130760

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Date of Web Publication16-Apr-2014

How to cite this article:
Badamali AK, Ishwar B. Defective endotracheal tube: Undetected by routine inspection. Saudi J Anaesth 2014;8:303-4

How to cite this URL:
Badamali AK, Ishwar B. Defective endotracheal tube: Undetected by routine inspection. Saudi J Anaesth [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jun 21];8:303-4. Available from:


Endotracheal intubation is an essential step for securing the airway of a patient. Ideally endotracheal tube (ETT) should be of appropriate size, as it acts as an extension of trachea, with added disadvantage of increased dead space, increased resistance and work of breathing. [1] The increase work of breathing is considerable in paediatric patients due to narrower airway. [2],[3] Factors which determine the resistance imposed by ETT on gas flow are internal diameter, length, configuration, and dead space of the tube.

According to Hagen Poiseuille law

Δ P = ( L × v × V )/ r [4]

Where ΔP is the pressure gradient across the tube, r is the radius of the tube, L is length, v is the viscosity of the gas, and V is the flow rate.

American National Standards Institute/International Standards Organization had put recommendations for anesthetic and respiratory equipment - tracheal tubes and connectors (ANS/ISO 5361), including material of construction, internal diameter, length, inflation system, cuff, radius of curvature, markings, packing, and labelling of ETT. Previous cases [4],[5] of endotracheal tube malfunction or defects inside the tube, cuff inflation tube, or pilot valve have been reported.

A 1 year old child with diagnosis of tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with cyanotic spell was received in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery ICU for management. The oxygen saturation was not improved satisfactorily, even after administration of parenteral morphine, intravenous fluid, and noradrenaline infusion. Then plan for intubation and emergency modified Blalock - Taussig (BT) shunt was made. After administration of intravenous ketamine, atropine and suxamithonium, endotracheal intubation was performed with 4 mm uncuffed ETT(Sterimed, India). There was resistance to manual ventilation. Chest was auscultated for assessment of equal bilateral air entry, which revealed feeble breath sound. Ventilation with Jackson and Rees (JR) circuit was rechecked for tube kink or malfunction of the components, which were found to be alright. Endotracheal tube was thought to be appropriate as it had snugly passed through the vocal cord and there was no palpable or audible leak. Suspecting the presence of secretions or mucus plug a 6F suction catheter was inserted into the ETT. Surprisingly, the catheter could not be negotiated freely beyond the ETT connector. The patient was reintubated with another 4 mm uncuffed ETT (Portex) after removing the earlier one. The air entry was adequate and equal bilaterally. Rest course of the patient during the perioperative period was uneventful. External examination of the first ETT revealed nothing, but connector of the tube revealed annular meniscus eventually creating a narrowed orifice at the patient end of the connector [Figure 1]. The machine end of the connector was absolutely normal when compared with connector of ETT of the same size [Figure 2]. Bilateral air entry was decreased due to high resistance. We suspect the ETT connector lastly after ruling out all other causes of poor air entry.

We have reported a case of defective endotracheal tube, where the problem was in the patient end of ETT connector which could not be detected even after through and repeated external examination. Such similar situation may occur in other hospitals also due to lack of standardization or quality control of endotracheal connector. The main learning point to be highlighted here is, in the absence of any common obvious reason (esophageal intubation, bronchospasm, kinking of ETT, secretions, tension pneumothorax, cuff herniation) for inadequate ventilation to replace the ETT after performing direct laryngoscopy and inspect both tube and connector of previous tube.
Figure 1: Patient end of ETT connector showing meniscus

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Figure 2: Machine end of ETT connector

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  References Top

1.Bersten AD, Rutten AJ, Vedig AE, Skowronski GA. Additional work of breathing imposed by endotracheal tubes, breathing circuits, and intensive care ventilators. Crit Care Med 1989;17:671-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Beatty PC, Healy TE. The additional work of breathing through Portex Polar "Blue Line" pre-formed pediatric tracheal tubes. Eur J Anaesthesiol 1992;9:77-83.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Manczur T, Greenough A, Nicholson GP, Rafferty GF. Resistance of pediatric and neonatal endotracheal tubes: Influence of flow rate, size and shape. Crit Care Med 2000;28:1595-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Lewer BM, Karim J, Henderson RS. Large air leak from an endotracheal tube due to a manufacturing defect. Anesth Analg 1997;85:944-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Sofi K, El-Gammal K. Endotracheal tube defects: Hidden causes of airway obstruction. Saudi J Anaesth 2010;4:108-10.  Back to cited text no. 5
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