Background: The use of cuffed vs uncuffed endotracheal tubes in pediatric anesthesia is widely debated. This study aimed to investigate whether the use of cuffed vs uncuffed tubes is associated with an increased incidence of acute postoperative respiratory complications.
Methods: We retrospectively studied all children aged 0-7 years in which the trachea was intubated between September 28, 2006 and August 26, 2016 in a pediatric university hospital. Logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate the association between tube design (cuffed vs uncuffed) and the incidence of acute postoperative respiratory complications (stridor, wheezing, or dyspnea; desaturations ≤90%) in need of intervention (epinephrine, dexamethasone, nebulizers, supplementary oxygen, or reintubation), adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: In 5247 of 6796 cases (77%), a cuffed tube was used. Acute postoperative respiratory complications in need of intervention occurred in 334 cases (4.9%) and were less common after cuffed than after uncuffed tubes (N = 236, 4.5% vs N = 98, 6.3%, respectively, odds ratio 0.70; 95%CI 0.55-0.89). Desaturation occurred less often after cuffed tubes (cuffed: N = 1365, 26.0%; uncuffed: N = 512, 33.1%; OR: 0.71 (0.61-0.84)). After adjusting for confounders, there was no difference in acute postoperative respiratory complications between cuffed tubes and uncuffed tubes (OR 0.74; 95%CI 0.55-1.01). Subgroup analyses in various age groups did not show significant differences between the use of cuffed or uncuffed tubes.
Conclusion: After adjustment for multiple confounders, the use of cuffed tubes was not associated with an increased incidence of acute respiratory complications in postanesthesia care unit.

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Paediatric Anaesthesia

de Wit, M. (Michel), Peelen, L., Van Wolfswinkel, L., & de Graaff, J. (2018). The incidence of postoperative respiratory complications: A retrospective analysis of cuffed vs uncuffed tracheal tubes in children 0-7 years of age. Paediatric Anaesthesia, 28(3), 210–217. doi:10.1111/pan.13340