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On the New Nasogastric Tube with Balloon for Prevention of Pulmonary Aspiration of Gastric Contents

Roewer, Norbert MD; Goerig, Michael MD

Letter to the Editor: In Response

Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital Eppendorf, D-20468 Hamburg, Germany.

In Response:

We appreciate the interest of Dr. Kubota et al. in our article and thank them for the historical remarks. Unfortunately, we had to omit the interesting history to avoid an excessively long article. At the turn of the century, the pathophysiology of postoperative pneumonitis became a subject of interest among German surgeons [1,2]. As a consequence of the evidence of aspiration as well as regurgitation of infectious material from the oral cavity during general anesthesia, the surgeon Walter Kausch took up the suggestion of his chief, Johann Mikulicz, to develop new concepts for its prevention, especially in situations where patients were suffering from an ileus. As a result of his efforts, Kausch described an inflatable nasogastric tube [3]. Probably, he was inspired by an article by Heinrich Quincke, who, in 1887, described a comparable tube for intestinal flushing as well as obstruction of the intestinal wall in cases of paraplegia [4]. As early as 1913, Kausch's nasogastric tube was described in a German textbook of anesthesia [5]. In 1914, Thomas Jurasz, in an article entitled "A Cardia-Obstructive Tube," praised Kausch's tube "as one of those little technical aids in operative surgery" that have "an immense importance" [6]. He regretted the general lack of knowledge or acceptance of the device by his colleagues and then described a modified inflatable nasogastric tube Figure 1. In 1951, the use of comparable devices for the prevention of aspiration during general anesthesia was discussed again by Sir Robert Macintosh [7]. Perhaps due to his influence worldwide, the concept of such tubes found greater worldwide notice and acceptance. Two years later, Carl Fisher reported on the use of Miller-Abbott tubes [8]. Although the first inflatable nasogastric tube was described 90 years ago, new technical modifications are still being developed, the latest of which is Aspisafe Registered Trademark by the Braun Company.

Figure 1

Figure 1

As simple as this principle of cardia blockade may appear today, the technical implementation of the new nasogastric tube presented difficulty owing to the numerous criteria of patient safety that had to be considered. At first, the use of balloon tubes such as the Sengstaken-Blakemore, the Linton Nachlas, or the Miller-Abbott tube was rejected, since these did not offer any definitive protection from regurgitation due to their construction and material. A new nasogastric tube was therefore developed that was designed to ensure safe, continuous apposition of the balloon on the cardia and that can be monitored during the induction and termination of anesthesia. At the same time, it is intended to fulfil the draining function of a conventional stomach tube for reasons of safety and economy.

Norbert Roewer, MD

Michael Goerig, MD

Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital Eppendorf, D-20468 Hamburg, Germany

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1. Holscher R. Experimentelle Untersuchungen uber die Entstehung der Erkrankungen der Luftwege nach Aethernarkose. Arch Klin Chir 1898;75:175-232.
2. Henle A. Ueber Pneumonie und Laparatomie. Verh Dtsch Ges Chir 1901;240-57.
3. Kausch W. Zur Narkose bei Ileus. Bln Klin Wschr 1903;33:753-5.
4. Quincke H. Zur Technik der Darmspulung. Illustrierte Monatsschrilt der arztlichen Polytechnik, 1888:279.
5. Brunn M von. Die Allgemeinnarkose. Stuttgart: Enke Verlag, 1913:107-8.
6. Juracz AT, Eine Kardiabschlusssonde. Munch Med Wschr 1914;37:1936-7.
7. Macintosh RR. Cuffed stomach tube. BMJ 1951;2:545.
8. Fisher CW. Prevention of aspiration of stomach contents. Anesthesiology 1953;14:506.
© 1995 International Anesthesia Research Society