Prevention of Ventilator-Associated and Early Postoperative Pneumonia Through Tapered Endotracheal Tube Cuffs: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

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Objective:Microaspiration of subglottic secretions is considered a major pathogenic mechanism of hospital-acquired pneumonia, either early postoperative or ventilator-associated pneumonia. Tapered endotracheal tube cuffs have been proposed to provide a better seal of the extraluminal airway, thereby preventing microaspiration and possibly hospital-acquired pneumonia. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the value of endotracheal tubes with tapered cuffs in the prevention of hospital-acquired pneumonia.Data Sources:A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL/CCTR,, and ICTRP was conducted up to March 2017.Study Selection:Eligible trials were randomized controlled clinical trials comparing the impact of tapered cuffs versus standard cuffs on hospital-acquired pneumonia.Data Extraction:Random-effects meta-analysis calculated odds ratio and 95% CI for hospital-acquired pneumonia occurrence rate between groups. Secondary outcome measures included mortality, duration of mechanical ventilation, length of hospital and ICU stay, and cuff underinflation.Data Synthesis:Six randomized controlled clinical trials with 1,324 patients from intensive care and postoperative wards were included. Only two studies concomitantly applied subglottic secretion drainage, and no trial performed continuous cuff pressure monitoring. No significant difference in hospital-acquired pneumonia incidence per patient was found when tapered cuffs were compared with standard cuffs (odds ratio, 0.97; 95% CI, [0.73–1.28]; p = 0.81). There were likewise no differences in secondary outcomes.Conclusions:Application of tapered endotracheal tube cuffs did not reduce hospital-acquired pneumonia incidence among ICU and postoperative patients. Further research should examine the impact of concomitant use of tapered cuffs with continuous cuff pressure monitoring and subglottic secretion drainage.

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