UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Cuff Pressure in Pediatric Intubations

Keywords: Pediatric Intubation, Airway Control, Cuff Pressure (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/10/2010 by Adam Friedlander, MD
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In the past several years it has become common practice to use cuffed tubes for pediatric intubations.  However, a recent study suggests that cuff pressures are not as well regulated in pediatric patients, particularly when the patients are quickly intubated prior to aeromedical transport. Cuff pressures >30 cm H2O are associated with tracheal damage, however, up to 41% of pediatric patients transferred had cuff pressures >30 cm H2O, and 30% of those had pressures >60 cm H2O!  


  • Check your cuff pressures in all patients, particularly prior to transport

  • Cuff pressures must be <30cm H2O

  • Recall that for years uncuffed tubes were the standard, so as long as effective ventilation is achieved, it is best to err on the low side...

If you work at a facility that routinely transfers out the sickest pediatric patients, you will save their life by securing an airway in this most stressful of circumstances, but careful attention to this seemingly small detail can save your patient from long term complications.


Tollefsen, William W. et al. Endotracheal Tube Cuff Pressures in Pediatric Patients Intubated Before Aeromedical Transport. Pediatric Emergency Care: May 2010 - Volume 26 - Issue 5 - pp 361-363