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In vitro comparison of neonatal suction catheters using simulated ‘pea soup’ meconium
  1. Zunera Zareen,
  2. Colin Patrick Hawkes,
  3. Edward R Krickan,
  4. Eugene Michael Dempsey,
  5. C Anthony Ryan
  1. Department of Neonatology, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Professor C Anthony Ryan, Department of Neonatology, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland; tony.ryan{at}


Background A variety of suction catheters (type, size and design) are recommended for oropharyngeal suctioning of meconium during newborn resuscitation, but it is not known which performs best. In this study we compared different sizes of soft catheters, the Yankauer (YK) and the portable bulb syringe (BS), in suctioning a solution of varying viscosity.

Methods Simulated meconium (SM) was made using commercial canned pea soup in two strengths, full-strength thick-particulate (TP) and 50% strained soup diluted with water, that is, thin-non-particulate (TnP), with saline as a control. A 20 ml aliquot of solution was suctioned over 5 s with each device using an electrical suction pump set at two different pressures, 100 and 150 mm Hg (21 kpa). In addition, the negative pressure of five BSs was measured in order to compare generated pressures with the alternative devices.

Results The YK and BS suctioned almost 100% of saline, while the 6F and 8F catheters suctioned 50% and 75% saline, respectively. The YK suctioned 100% of TnP, saline and 30% of TP. At reduced suction pressures (100 and 50 mm Hg) the YK also suctioned all TnP. The 12F and 14F catheters suctioned a minimal amount of TP, whereas YK was the most efficient, suctioning 30% of TP. The mean negative pressure generated with five BSs was 78 and 71 mm Hg by a male and female operator, respectively.

Conclusions The YK and BS outperform the catheters in suctioning SM. The YK is the best for TP, but all devices perform poorly in suctioning fluid of this consistency.

  • Neonatology
  • Resuscitation

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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