Patient recollection of airway suctioning in the ICU: routine versus a minimally invasive procedure

Johannes P. van de Leur, Jan Harm Zwaveling, Bert G Loef, Cees van der Schans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Many patients have an unpleasant recollection of routine endotracheal suctioning after discharge from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We hypothesized that through minimally invasive airway suctioning discomfort and stress may be prevented, resulting in less recollection.

DESIGN: A prospective randomized clinical trial.

SETTING: Two ICUs at the University Hospital of Groningen, the Netherlands.

PATIENTS AND PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients with an intubation period exceeding 24 h were included.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients received either routine endotracheal suctioning (RES) or minimally invasive airway suctioning (MIAS) during the duration of intubation.

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Within 3 days after ICU discharge all patients were interviewed, regarding recollection and discomfort of suctioning. The level of discomfort was quantified on a visual analogue scale (VAS). We analyzed data from 208 patients (RES: n=113, and MIAS: n=95). A significantly lower prevalence of recollection of airway suctioning was found in the MIAS group (20%) compared to the RES group (41%) (P-value =0.001). No significant difference in level of discomfort was found between the RES and the MIAS group (P-value =0.136).

CONCLUSIONS: Minimally invasive airway suctioning results in a lower prevalence of recollection of airway suction than in RES, but not in discomfort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-436
Number of pages4
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • critical care
  • pain measurement
  • prospective studies
  • statistics, nonparametric
  • suction
  • clinical trial


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