Objective: To evaluate the ability of capnography to document proper placement of nasoesophageal (NE) and nasogastric (NG) feeding tubes. This study was conducted in 3 phases. Phase I of this study was designed in order to test the efficacy of capnography to distinguish placement of a feeding tube in the alimentary tract versus the respiratory tract. Phase II was designed in order to document that carbon dioxide (CO2) could be measured through a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) feeding tube. Phase III was performed in order to evaluate the technique of continuous monitoring during insertion of the feeding tube into the esophagus and stomach as would be performed during a clinical-tube placement.
Design: Prospective study.
Setting: Research laboratory.
Animals: 24 adult dogs.
Interventions: In Phase I, sedated dogs were instrumented with an intratracheal catheter and an 8 French feeding tube placed nasally into the distal esophagus and later advanced into the stomach. In Phase II, dogs were anesthetized and an 8 French feeding tube was placed down the endotracheal tube, then into the esophagus and later advanced into the stomach. In Phase III, sedated dogs were instrumented with an 8 French feeding tube inserted intranasally and then advanced to the level of the nasopharynx, distal esophagus and, lastly, the stomach. Fluoroscopy was used in order to determine location of the feeding tube.
Measurements and main results: Phase I measurements included respiratory rate and CO2 from the trachea, esophagus, and stomach and pH of gastric fluid sample. Phase II measurements included respiratory rate and CO2 from the endotracheal tube, feeding tube in the endotracheal tube, feeding tube in the distal esophagus, and feeding tube in the stomach. Phase III data collection included respiratory rate and CO2 as the tube was passed through the nasal cavity, nasopharynx, esophagus and stomach. Phase I fluid samples were collected from 5 of the 9 dogs and had pH values from 1.68 to 4.20. In both phases, values for the respiratory rate and CO2 from the esophagus and stomach were 0 ± 0, significantly lower (P < 0.001) than the values from the trachea. In Phase II, there was no significant difference between the respiratory rates (P = 0.886) and CO2 (P = 0.705) readings obtained from the endotracheal tube compared to readings from the feeding tube in the endotracheal tube. In Phase III, there was a significant difference (P < 0.001) between the respiratory rates and CO2 readings obtained from the nasal cavity and the nasopharynx when compared to those readings obtained from the esophagus and stomach. Measurement of CO2 and respiratory rate resulted in a reading of 0 every time the feeding tube was in the esophagus or stomach.
Conclusions: Capnography may be used in order to detect airway placement of NE and NG tubes.