A new voice tracheostomy tube allows patients to talk while receiving mechanical ventilation. Slits on its side are covered with an elastic cuff, which expands on inspiration and deflates on expiration. Some of the expired air passes out around the deflated cuff and discharges through the glottis, allowing the vocal cords to vibrate.
The tube's inventor tested the tube on 16 patients on mechanical ventilation who'd been using a conventional tracheostomy tube. Their medical conditions included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and spinal cord injury.
Except for one patient whose trachea was deformed, all could speak using the new tube. Two patients whose voices were weak needed a speaking valve between the tube and the end of the ventilator circuit. Using the new tube didn't affect arterial blood gas levels.
Some patients used the voice tracheostomy tube for as long as 386 days. During that time, no one had aspiration complications, and the slits in the tube didn't become occluded with secretions. Bronchoscopy conducted in six patients didn't reveal tracheal damage.
The researcher concluded that the device allowed sufficient ventilation without aspiration or damage to tracheal mucosa, even in patients with low lung compliance.