A review of detection techniques for oesophageal intubation


Address for correspondence: Dr Michael Ardagh, Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine, Emergency Department, Christchurch Hospital, Private Bag 4710, Christchurch, New Zealand


Inadvertent intubation of the oesophagus is an occasional complication of endotracheal intubation and can be fatal if unrecognised.

Visualising the endotracheal tube pass between the vocal cords and capnography are established as the gold standard methods of ensuring tracheal placement, but both may be either impossible or impractical in certain emergency intubations.

Colourimetric end tidal CO2 detectors and oesophageal detector devices are alternative techniques. Of these oesophageal detector devices are the more accurate.