Endotracheal tube cuff pressure must be kept within an optimal range that ensures ventilation and prevents aspiration while maintaining tracheal perfusion.
To test the effect of an intervention (adding or removing air) on the proportion of time that cuff pressure was between 20 and 30 cm H2O and to evaluate changes in cuff pressure over time.
A repeated-measure crossover design was used to study 32 orally intubated patients receiving mechanical ventilation for two 12-hour shifts (randomized control and intervention conditions). Continuous cuff pressure monitoring was initiated, and the pressure was adjusted to a minimum of 22 cm H2O. Caregivers were blinded to cuff pressure data, and usual care was provided during the control condition. During the intervention condition, cuff pressure alarm or clinical triggers guided the intervention.
Most patients were men (mean age, 61.6 years). During the control condition, 51.7% of cuff pressure values were out of range compared with 11.1% during the intervention condition (P < .001). During the intervention, a mean of 8 adjustments were required, mostly to add air to the endotracheal tube cuff (mean 0.28 [SD, 0.13] mL). During the control condition, cuff pressure decreased over time (P < .001).
The intervention was effective in maintaining cuff pressure within an optimal range, and cuff pressure decreased over time without intervention. The effect of the intervention on outcomes such as ventilator-associated pneumonia and tracheal damage requires further study.