Temporal comparison of ultrasound vs. auscultation and capnography in verification of endotracheal tube placement

P Pfeiffer, S S Rudolph, J Børglum, D L Isbye
Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica 2011, 55 (10): 1190-5

BACKGROUND: This study compared the time consumption of bilateral lung ultrasound with auscultation and capnography for verifying endotracheal intubation.

METHODS: A prospective, paired, and investigator-blinded study carried out in the operating theatre. Twenty-five adult patients requiring endotracheal intubation were included. During intubation, transtracheal ultrasound was performed to visualize passage of the endotracheal tube. During bag ventilation, bilateral lung ultrasound was performed for the detection of lung sliding as a sign of ventilation simultaneous with capnography and auscultation of the epigastrium and chest. Primary outcome measure was time difference to confirmed endotracheal intubation between ultrasound and auscultation alone. Secondary outcome measure was time difference between ultrasound and auscultation combined with capnography.

RESULTS: Both methods verified endotracheal tube placement in all patients. In 68% of patients, endotracheal tube placement was visualized by real-time transtracheal ultrasound. Comparing ultrasound with the combination of auscultation and capnography, there was a significant difference between the two methods. Median time for ultrasound was 40 s [interquartile range (IQR) 35-48 s] vs. 48 s (IQR 45-53 s), P < 0.0001. Mean difference was -7.1 s in favour of ultrasound [95% confidence interval (CI) -9.4--4.8 s]. No significant difference was found between ultrasound compared with auscultation alone. Median time for auscultation alone was 42 s (IQR 37-47 s), P = 0.6, with a mean difference of -0.88 s in favour of ultrasound (95% CI -4.2-2.5 s).

CONCLUSIONS: Verification of endotracheal tube placement with ultrasound is as fast as auscultation alone and faster than the standard method of auscultation and capnography.

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