The paramedics just arrived with a new patient to the resuscitation room. You find an altered patient actively vomiting bloody vomitus and food particles. You prepare for a difficult airway. You prepare 2 Yankauer suction catheters, but you are still worried that the food particles may clog up the catheters. Is there a better alternative?
Up to 44% of emergent intubations are complicated by blood, vomit, or food particles in the airway. It has been shown that contaminated airways may lead to multiple intubation attempts and are associated with poor outcomes, such as peri-intubation cardiac arrest [1, 2].
The Yankauer suction catheter is the most commonly available tool in the Emergency Department to remove foreign particles, but performs poorly when compared to larger-bore catheters . The Yankauer was made initially for surgical field management, with small holes at the tip to gently remove (or become clogged with) debris without damaging tissue. Some standard Yankauer designs have a built-in safety vent hole on the shaft, which if unoccluded, renders the device virtually useless . This protective equipment design does not offer maximum help during emergent large-volume regurgitation dirty airway management.
Alternatively, there is the DuCanto suction catheter. It is a specialized and more expensive large-bore version of the Yankauer; however, it is not as readily available and more expensive .
Trick of the Trade: Use a large-bore endotracheal tube as a rigid suction catheter
A large-bore, such as a size 10.0, endotracheal tube can serve as a rigid suction catheter. Note the diameter sizes of the Yankauer, DuCanto, and 10.0 endotracheal tube below.
- Materials needed
- Size 10.0 endotracheal tube (or the largest size you have)
- Suction tubing and canister
- Making the device
- Insert the rubber end of the suction tubing over the plastic endotracheal tube adaptor
- Attach suction tubing to the canister
- Turn suction on
Video Demonstration: Yankauer vs Large-Bore Endotracheal Tube
Editorial Note: If the rigidity of the catheter is less important, you can also insert the soft suction tubing directly into the airway to remove contents.
Read other Tricks of the Trade posts on ALiEM.
- Nikolla DA, Heslin A, King B, Carlson JN. Comparison of suction rates between a standard Yankauer and make-shift large bore suction catheters using a meconium aspirator and various sized endotracheal tubes. J Clin Anesth. 2021 Sep;72:110262. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2021.110262. PMID 33839435
- Hasegawa K, Shigemitsu K, Hagiwara Y, et al. Association between repeated intubation attempts and adverse events in emergency departments: an analysis of a multicenter prospective observational study. Ann Emerg Med. 2012;60(6):749-754.e2. doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.04.005. PMID 22542734
- Andreae MC, Cox RD, Shy BD, et al. 319 Yankauer Outperformed by Alternative Suction Devices in Evacuation of Simulated Emesis.” Ann Emerg Med. 68(4), S123 [research abstract] doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.08.335