Background Cuff management varies widely in Europe and North America. Little is known about current practice in Australia and New Zealand.
Objective To characterize important aspects of cuff management in intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand to compare with international reports.
Methods A questionnaire was sent to all nurse managers of adult intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand.
Results Survey response was 53% (92/175). After intubation, most units (50/92, 54%) used both minimal occlusive volume technique and cuff pressure measurement; 5 (5.5%) used these methods along with pilot balloon palpation. Twenty units (22%) used cuff pressure measurement exclusively and 16 units (17.5%) used the minimal occlusive volume technique exclusively. Only 1 unit (1%) used the minimal leak technique after intubation. For ongoing management, cuff pressure measurement was the preferred method, used exclusively in 42 units (46%), with the minimal occlusive volume technique used in 40 units (43%; sole method in 6 units [7%]) and palpation in 4 units (4%). In most units (65/92, 71%), cuffs were monitored once per nursing shift. In units using the minimal occlusive volume technique, oropharyngeal suctioning (74%) and semirecumbent positioning (58%) were routinely incorporated; sigh breaths (6%), discontinuation of enteral feeding (10%), and nasogastric tube aspiration (26%) were uncommon. Cuff management protocols (37%) and subglottic suctioning (12%) were used infrequently.
Conclusions Cuff pressure measurement was the preferred method, used exclusively or in combination with other methods. The minimal occlusive volume technique was used more often after intubation than for ongoing management.