Intrapulmonary placements of feeding tubes inserted with use of an electromagnetic placement device (EMPD) continue to occur.
To describe circumstances and outcomes associated with intrapulmonary feeding tube placements during use of an EMPD.
A retrospective review of reports to the US Food and Drug Administration’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database of intrapulmonary feeding tube placements during use of an EMPD from 2019 through 2021. Complications, outcomes, operator training, interference from anatomical variations and medical devices, and the use and accuracy of radiographs in identifying pulmonary placements were recorded.
Sixty-two cases of intrapulmonary tube placement were identified; 10 were associated with a fatal outcome. Pneumothorax occurred in 35 cases and feedings were delivered into the lung in 11 cases. User error was cited in 6 cases and was implicit in most others. Little information was provided about operator training. Four intrapulmonary placements were associated with anatomical variations and 1 with a left ventricular assist device. Radiographic follow-up was described in 28 cases and correctly identified 23 of the intrapulmonary placements.
User error was a significant factor, which highlights the need for empirical data to clarify the amount of training needed to safely credential EMPD operators. Clearer information is needed about anatomical variations that may contraindicate use of an EMPD, as well as medical devices that may interfere with an EMPD. Use of follow-up radiographs, interpreted by qualified personnel, is supported to increase the probability of identifying intrapulmonary tube placements.