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Suctioning, Effects, Pediatric, Endotracheal



  1. Fisk, Anna C. PhD, RN, CCRN


Background: Critically ill pediatric patients with endotracheal tubes routinely receive endotracheal tube suctioning to clear secretions and ensure tube patency. This common practice can result in adverse effects.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the research literature on the stressors of endotracheal suctioning and consequent effect on the pediatric patient.


Methods: An integrative review was conducted using the Whittemore and Knafl modified framework for integrative reviews, and article selection was guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses flow diagram. A literature search was conducted via PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Scopus. Selected articles were evaluated to present the current evidence on the stressors of endotracheal suctioning in the pediatric population.


Results: This review includes 14 articles, with a total of 849 patients, ranging in age from premature neonates to 17 years of age. The available literature aligned into 3 categories: neurovascular effects, respiratory systems effects, and pain related to endotracheal tube suctioning. Pain was the most prevalent category, with half of the studies using endotracheal suctioning as a painful procedure to validate pain assessment tools rather than examining the effect of suctioning. A majority of the studies (67%) were conducted in the premature neonate population. Children with congenital cardiac or pulmonary defects, genetic syndromes, or neurological injuries were frequently excluded.


Conclusions: Literature regarding the effects of endotracheal suctioning in children is limited. There are many extrapersonal, interpersonal, and intrapersonal stressors associated with endotracheal suctioning that merit future research.