doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e3182a354a8

In Reply

Lerman, Jerrold M.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.A.N.Z.C.A.*; Sathyamoorthy, Madhankumar M.B.B.S.; Lakshminrusimha, Satyanarayana M.D.

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In Reply:

We thank Dr. Dunn for his interest in our case report. In response, Dr. Dunn erroneously states that we noticed “a higher than expected incidence of stridor after using the Microcuff® endotracheal tube in neonates.” We made no such claim or statement.1 We found it enigmatic that Dr. Dunn referred to a 20-cm H2O air leak around a tracheal tube as a “standard of care.” First, the presence of an air leak depends on the head position and degree of paralysis as much as it does on the tube fit.2 Second, the leak pressure is not reproducible as a 38% difference between experienced anesthesiologists has been reported.3 Third, the study cited by Dr. Dunn stated that in selecting the appropriate size tube in infants with age less than 1 yr, either “resistance to passage of the initial tube into the trachea, or … an audible leak when the lungs were inflated to a pressure of 20–30 cm water” was used with apparent equipoise.4 We presume then he agrees with our practice that a tube that passes the subglottis without resistance is the correct size, as described in our report.1 Returning the 0.5 ml of air, which was evacuated from the packaged cuff to the cuff as described in two of the cases in our report, did not substantively change the shape or pressure within the cuff of these tubes as we determined in vitro. Fourth, the incidence of stridor after leak pressures of 40 cm H2O or more in children (twice that recommended by Dr. Dunn) was zero in one study on 200 children or more and 0.1% in the second of 5,000 children or more.3,5 In fact, several studies have reported postextubation stridor after leak pressures between 10 and 40 cm H2O without consistent results. Fifth, the “leak test” emerged from the pediatric intensive care unit to attenuate the incidence of stridor postextubation, although recent evidence suggests that stridor occurs with a similar incidence in children at a leak pressure of 20 and 30 cm H2O and that a leak test at 40 cm H2O in critically ill children does not predict extubation failure.6 Surprisingly, the leak test is not used at all to size uncuffed tracheal tube for infants in several neonatal intensive care units that we canvassed. We believe this evidence repudiates the “leak test” as a “standard of care” for tracheal tube size in infants. In sum, we urge practitioners to follow the published guidelines and manufacturer’s recommendations for sizing these tubes according to the patient’s age and weight, and to limit the use of these tubes in neonates and infants to circumstances that warrant a cuffed tube, until further studies establish their safe use.
Jerrold Lerman, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.A.N.Z.C.A.,
* Madhankumar Sathyamoorthy, M.B.B.S., Satyanarayana Lakshminrusimha, M.D. *Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.
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1. Sathyamoorthy M, Lerman J, Lakshminrusimha S, Feldman D. Inspiratory stridor after tracheal intubation with a MicroCuff® tracheal tube in three young infants. Anesthesiology. 2013;118:748–50

2. Finholt DA, Henry DB, Raphaely RC. Factors affecting leak around tracheal tubes in children. Can Anaesth Soc J. 1985;32:326–9

3. Schwartz RE, Stayer SA, Pasquariello CA. Tracheal tube leak test—Is there inter-observer agreement? Can J Anaesth. 1993;40:1049–52

4. Khine HH, Corddry DH, Kettrick RG, Martin TM, McCloskey JJ, Rose JB, Theroux MC, Zagnoev M. Comparison of cuffed and uncuffed endotracheal tubes in young children during general anesthesia. Anesthesiology. 1997;86:627–31 discussion 27A

5. Litman RS, Keon TP. Postintubation croup in children. Anesthesiology. 1991;75:1122–3

6. Wratney AT, Benjamin DK Jr, Slonim AD, He J, Hamel DS, Cheifetz IM. The endotracheal tube air leak test does not predict extubation outcome in critically ill pediatric patients. Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2008;9:490–6

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