Continuous control of tracheal cuff pressure for the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia in critically ill patients: where is the evidence?

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Purpose of review

Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a major cause of death, morbidity and costs in ICUs. Several evidence-based clinical interventions have been increasingly described for its prevention. However, continuous control of tracheal cuff pressure (Pcuff) is rarely mentioned in the latest clinical guidelines. This review focuses on the available data about the management of Pcuff in the ICU, including discontinuous and continuous control, and its impact on the prevention of VAP.

Recent findings

Current discontinuous monitoring and adjustment of Pcuff, even well performed, is inaccurate in maintaining Pcuff in the target range. Underinflation (Pcuff <20 cmH2O) of tracheal cuff is an independent risk factor for VAP through microaspiration of contaminated subglottic secretions into the lower respiratory tract. Two main types of devices, electronic and pneumatic, have been developed for the continuous control of Pcuff. Both have shown effectiveness in maintaining Pcuff in recommended range in ICU patients, but only the pneumatic device has provided a reduction in microaspiration and VAP incidence.


Continuous controllers of Pcuff represent effective, easy to use and timesaving devices in today's busy ICU environment. However, further studies are required to determine the impact of continuous control of Pcuff on VAP incidence, patient outcomes, antimicrobial consumption and to compare pneumatic and electronic devices, before generalizing their use in routine practice.

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