Using spectral reflectance to distinguish between tracheal and oesophageal tissue: applications for airway management

C. D. Nawn, M. B. Blackburn, R. A. De Lorenzo, K. L. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Proper placement of the tracheal tube requires confirmation, and the predominant method in addition to clinical signs is the presence of end-tidal carbon dioxide. Such is the importance of confirmation that novel methods may also have a place. We previously demonstrated using ex-vivo swine tissue a unique spectral reflectance characteristic of tracheal tissue that differs from oesophageal tissue. We hypothesised that this characteristic would be present in living swine tissue and human cadavers. Reflectance spectra in the range 500–650 nm were captured using a customised fibreoptic probe, compact spectrometer and white light source from both the trachea and the oesophagus in anesthetised living swine and in human cadavers. A tracheal detection algorithm using ratio comparisons of reflectance was developed. The existence of the unique tracheal characteristic in both in-vivo swine and cadaver models was confirmed (p < 0.0001 for all comparisons between tracheal and oesophageal tissue at all target wavelengths in both species). Furthermore, our proposed tracheal detection algorithm exhibited a 100% positive predictive value in both models. This has potential utility for incorporation into airway management devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-347
Number of pages8
JournalAnaesthesia
Volume74
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • ACLS: tracheal tube confirmation
  • double-lumen tube placement
  • epiglottitis: airway management
  • upper airway anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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