Hospital-acquired pressure injuries, including those related to airway devices, are a significant source of morbidity in critically ill patients.


To determine the incidence of endotracheal tube–related pressure injuries in critically ill patients and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions designed to prevent injury.


MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library were searched for studies of pediatric or adult patients in intensive care units that evaluated interventions to reduce endotracheal tube–related pressure injury. Reviewers extracted data on study and patient characteristics, incidence of pressure injury, type and duration of intervention, and outcomes. Risk of bias assessment followed the Cochrane Collaboration’s criteria.


Twelve studies (5 randomized clinical trials, 3 quasi-experimental, 4 observational) representing 9611 adult and 152 pediatric patients met eligibility criteria. The incidence of pressure injury was 4.2% for orotracheal tubes and 21.1% for nasotracheal tubes. Interventions included anchor devices, serial endotracheal tube assessment or repositioning, and barrier dressings for nasotracheal tubes. Meta-analysis revealed that endotracheal tube stabilization was the most effective individual intervention for preventing pressure injury. Nasal alar barrier dressings decreased the incidence of skin or mucosal injury in patients undergoing nasotracheal intubation, and data on effectiveness of serial assessment and repositioning were inconclusive.


Airway device–related pressure injuries are common in critically ill patients, and patients with nasotracheal tubes are particularly susceptible to iatrogenic harm. Fastening devices and barrier dressings decrease the incidence of injury. Evidence regarding interventions is limited by lack of standardized assessments.

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