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      The Utility of Color Doppler to Confirm Endotracheal Tube Placement: A Pilot Study

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          Grayscale ultrasound (US) imaging has been used as an adjunct for confirming endotracheal tube (ETT) placement in recent years. The addition of color Doppler imaging (CDI) has been proposed to improve identification but has not been well studied. The aim of this study was to assess whether CDI improves correct localization of ETT placement.


          A convenience sample of emergency and critical care physicians at various levels of training and experience participated in an online assessment. Participants viewed US video clips of patients, which included either tracheal or esophageal intubations captured in grayscale or with CDI; there were five videos of each for a total of 20 videos. Participants were asked to watch each clip and then assess the location of the ETT.


          Thirty-eight subjects participated in the online assessment. Levels of training included medical students (13%), emergency medicine (EM) residents (50%), EM attendings (32%), and critical care attendings (5%). The odds ratio of properly assessing tracheal placement using color relative to a grayscale imaging technique was 1.5 (p = 0.21). Regarding the correct assessment of esophageal placement, CDI had 1.4 times the odds of being correctly assessed relative to grayscale (p = 0.26). The relationship between training level and correct assessments was not significant for either tracheal or esophageal placements.


          In this pilot study we found no significant improvement in correct identification of ETT placement using color Doppler compared to grayscale ultrasound; however, there was a trend toward improvement that might be better elucidated in a larger study.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Part 7: Adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support: 2015 American Heart Association Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care.

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            Comparison of three different methods to confirm tracheal tube placement in emergency intubation.

             Štefek Grmec (2002)
            Verification of endotracheal tube placement is of vital importance, since unrecognized esophageal intubation can be rapidly fatal (death, brain damage). The aim of our study was to compare three different methods for immediate confirmation of tube placement: auscultation, capnometry and capnography in emergency conditions in the prehospital setting. Prospective study in the prehospital setting. All adult patients (>18 years) were intubated by an emergency physician in the field. Tube position was initially evaluated by auscultation. Then, capnometry was performed with infrared capnometry and capnography with infrared capnography. The examiners looked for the characteristic CO(2) waveform and value of end-tidal carbon dioxide (EtCO(2)) in millimeters of mercury. Determination of final tube placement was performed by a second direct visualization with laryngoscope. Data are mean +/- SD and percentages. Over a 4year period, 345 patients requiring emergency intubation were included. Indications for intubation included cardiac arrest ( n=246; 71%) and non-arrest conditions ( n=99; 29%). In nine (2.7%) patients, esophageal tube placement occurred. The esophageal intubations were followed by successful endotracheal intubations without complications. The capnometry (sensitivity and specificity 100%) and capnography (sensitivity and specificity 100%) were better than auscultation (sensitivity 94% and specificity 83%) in confirming endotracheal tube placement in non-arrest patients ( p<0.05). Capnometry was highly specific (100%) but not sensitive (88%) for correct endotracheal intubation in patients with cardiopulmonary arrest (capnometry versus auscultation and capnometry versus capnography, p<0.05). Capnography is the most reliable method to confirm endotracheal tube placement in emergency conditions in the prehospital setting.
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              End-tidal carbon dioxide and outcome of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

              Survival after cardiac arrest occurring outside the hospital averages less than 3 percent. Unfortunately, the outcome of prolonged resuscitative attempts cannot be predicted. End-tidal carbon dioxide levels reflect cardiac output during cardiopulmonary resuscitation. We prospectively determined whether death could be predicted by monitoring end-tidal carbon dioxide during resuscitation after cardiac arrest. We performed a prospective observational study in 150 consecutive victims of cardiac arrest outside the hospital who had electrical activity but no pulse. The patients were intubated and evaluated by mainstream end-tidal carbon dioxide monitoring. Our hypothesis was that an end-tidal carbon dioxide level of 10 mm Hg or less after 20 minutes of standard advanced cardiac life support would predict death. There was no difference in the mean age or initial end-tidal carbon dioxide level between patients who survived to hospital admission (survivors) and those who did not (nonsurvivors). After 20 minutes of advanced cardiac life support, end-tidal carbon dioxide (+/-SD) averaged 4.4+/-2.9 mm Hg in nonsurvivors and 32.8+/-7.4 mm Hg in survivors (P< 0.001). A 20-minute end-tidal carbon dioxide value of 10 mm Hg or less successfully discriminated between the 35 patients who survived to hospital admission and the 115 nonsurvivors. When a 20-minute end-tidal carbon dioxide value of 10 mm Hg or less was used as a screening test to predict death, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value were all 100 percent. An end-tidal carbon dioxide level of 10 mm Hg or less measured 20 minutes after the initiation of advanced cardiac life support accurately predicts death in patients with cardiac arrest associated with electrical activity but no pulse. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation may reasonably be terminated in such patients.

                Author and article information

                West J Emerg Med
                West J Emerg Med
                Western Journal of Emergency Medicine
                Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
                July 2020
                10 July 2020
                : 21
                : 4
                : 871-876
                [* ]Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Palo Alto, California
                []Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Palo Alto, California
                Author notes
                Address for Correspondence: Kenton L. Anderson, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, 900 Welch Road, Suite 350, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Email: kentona@ .
                Copyright: © 2020 Gildea et al.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) License. See:

                Critical Care
                Original Research

                Emergency medicine & Trauma


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