The tracheal mucosa is very a delicate structure, and pressure–ischaemia problems following the use of cuffed tracheostomy tubes are well documented. Iatrogenic tracheal stenosis is one of the consequences of mucosal ischaemia and is very difficult to treat. In this study the accuracy of finger-tip tested tracheostomy tube cuff inflation pressure, as judged by consultants and non-consultants, was assessed by comparison with manometric pressure readings. The estimated pressure readings from the consultant group were more accurate than those from the non-consultant group, but a high standard deviation and very big difference between low and high readings in both these groups showed the real extent of the problem. Participants who performed 10 or more tracheostomies a year obtained more accurate results. No definite correlation was observed between the readings and the experience of the participants in otolaryngology or the size of the tube used. The authors recommend that instrumental monitoring of cuff pressure be considered good practice among junior otolaryngologists.
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