Tag Archives: Endotracheal Tube

Trauma Devices

February 27, 2018


Trauma Lines

This patient has four devices.

  1. There is an endotracheal tube that is malpositioned into the right mainstem bronchi.
  2. A right subclavian central line can be seen positioned in the right atrium
  3. A right sided chest tube is in good position
  4. Coursing up from the femoral area is a REBOA catheter.

What is a REBOA catheter?  REBOA = Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta.  It is relatively new technology in which a specialized catheter is used with a balloon that occludes the aorta.  It is predominantly used in lieu of cross-clamping the aorta for severely ill trauma patients with uncontrolled abdominal hemorrhage as a temporizing device to allow time for transport to the OR and definitive control.

The patient’s lungs also appear with contusions and possibly a posterior hemothorax (patient is supine) on the left.

For a detailed discussion of REBOA including radiologic placement please refer to Life in the Fast Lane:


Author:  Russell Jones, MD

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WWWTP #21… Answer

October 28, 2014


This is an interesting X-ray of a newborn with respiratory distress:




The upper Chest X-ray has an endotracheal tube near the carina (probably should be pulled back a bit).  It also has cardiomegally with vascular congestion.  The line coming up from below is an umbilical venous catheter in the inferior vena cava.

The “baby gram” below shows the same.  This image gives a better view of the umbilical line.

An umbilical venous catheter should traverse as this one does.  It comes straight up from the umbilicus to just above the diaphragm near the right atrium and inferior vena cava junction.  If the catheter does not go straight up and veers to the left side of the patient, it may have erroneously entered the hepatic vasculature.  This can result in hepatic complications.

The patient ended up having a double outlet right ventricle (both the aorta and main pulmonary artery are attached to the right ventricle) which is one of many anatomic heart abnormalities that can lead to congestive heart failure.  There was also a patent ductus arteriosus and a large ventral septal defect (VSD) that allowed for mixing of deoxygenated and oxygenated blood.  Without the large VSD the patient would not have been able to survive.

Author:  Russell Jones, MD


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Answer AIDS PNA…

October 22, 2013


On a previous post I posed a question on the differential diagnosis of pneumonia in an AIDS patient with this chest Xray:


This is a multilobar pneumonia vs. ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome).  AIDS patients can have the same bacterial causes of multilobar pneumonia that is present in other patient populations (Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus Influenza, Moraxella catarrhalis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Legionella pneumoniae, etc.).  If they are healthcare associated or hospital-acquired further drug-resistant bugs such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and MRSA could be implicated.  Infectious organisms specifically involved in immunocompromised hosts could include (among others):

  • Pneumocystis Jiroveci (PCP pneumonia)
  • Coccidioides species
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Histoplasma species
  • Aspergillus species
  • Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC)
  • Influenza
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Varicella-zoster virus (VZV)
  • Legionella species
  • Nocardia species
  • Cryptococcus neoformans
  • Mucoraceae species
  • Strongyloides species
  • Toxoplasma species
  • Capnocytophaga species

Non-infectious causes of multilobar infiltrates such as this could include diffuse alveolar hemorrhage, cardiogenic pulmonary edema, ARDS, among others. The multilobar involvement of the Xray above could implicate certain pathogens in favor of others (for example, Pneumocystis Jiroveci is usually multilobar as opposed to Streptococcus pneumonia which usually will cause a dense, lobar pneumonia).  The other interesting feature of the Xray is that it appears multi-nodular.  This can implicate entities such as CMV rather than a bat-wing ground-glass appearance of Pneumocystis Jiroveci.  For further discussion on pneumonia radiographic findings in AIDS, please see radiopaedia.org discussion below:


Incidentally, the endotracheal tube should be pulled back about 2 cm.

Author:  Russell Jones, MD


1.  Jones J, Stanislavski A, et al.  Pulmonary Manifestations of HIV/AIDS.  http://radiopaedia.org/articles/pulmonary-manifestations-of-hiv-aids.  Accessed 10/2013.

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PBJ in left mainstem bronchus…

April 28, 2013


A recent patient who presented after choking on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

PBJ in L mainstem CTPBJ in L mainstem CXR

This was an interesting case because of the post-intubation conundrum we faced.  The patient came in peri-arrest from hypoxia, GCS was 3 with very poor respiratory effort and oxygen saturation of 60%.  Therefore we were unable to get a great respiratory exam prior to intubation.  Bag-valve mask ventilation with 100% oxygen did not improve the situation and the patient was very difficult to bag due to obviously increased airway pressure.  The intubation was very difficult and as we were checking for bilateral breath sounds post-intubation, we noticed none on the left side.  Capnography color change was good, no gastric sounds were heard, and moisture was in the tube.  Pulling back the endotracheal tube did not change the lack of left sided lung sounds.  The patient continued to be difficult to bag with hypoxia very slowly improving from initial saturations in the 60s now to the mid-70s.  At this point all of our heart rates were around 150 and we had that sinking feeling that occurs when oxygenation doesn’t improve after intubation.

For a few minutes we were concerned about pneumothorax on the left side.  As you can tell from the xray our external landmarks such as tracheal deviation, jugular venous distention were severely limited by body habitus.  Bedside ultrasound using the linear probe was limited as well and no lung-sliding was visualized.  We basically couldn’t identify what we were seeing on ultrasound (later we found out the lung was completely collapsed and we may have been seeing diaphragm, heart, and non-aerated lung).  In the heat-of-the-moment the ED treatment team was perplexed on how to rule out a tension pneumothorax in this situation.

Luckily the patient’s oxygenation creeped above 90% and the patient didn’t have any blood pressure problems.  We took a deep breath, relaxed, and made the decision to obtain the above portable chest xray before performing empiric thoracostomy.  This turned out to be the correct decision as she had a complete obstruction of the left mainstem bronchus from aspiration of a peanut-butter sandwich.  CT chest (above) shows the obstruction at the level of the carina with collapse of the left lung.  Bronchoscopy was performed and a large amount of peanut butter, jelly, and sandwich fragments were removed with improvement in the patient’s chest xray post-procedure.

Moral of the story:  not all patients have pneumothorax or a malpositioned endotracheal tube when lung sounds are absent.

A brief alternative differential diagnosis when a patient has absent lung sounds on one side:

  1. Mainstem bronchus obstruction or compression
  2. Diaphragmatic hernia
  3. Large pleural effusion
  4. History of pneumonectomy

I’ve noticed a trend in ED training toward increased reliance on bedside ultrasound.  It is important to realize that if you are going to use ultrasound in the resuscitation decisions such as this, make sure that you are seeing something that reliably indicates the pathology you are seeking to correct.  We did not see signs that supported or refuted pneumothorax and thus the ultrasound was non-diagnostic.  I apologize for not having the ultrasound images.  We forgot to save them as we all had that panicked feeling when you’ve intubated someone and their pulse ox isn’t improving very fast!

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

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WWWTP #6 Answer…

March 21, 2013

1 Comment

This chest xray was posted several days ago:

RML PNA, high ETT 1

What’s wrong with this picture?

1.  There is an endotracheal tube in the upper trachea, it needs to be advanced!

The other finding on this xray is a right middle lobe pneumonia.  At first this may appear to be a pleural effusion due to the relatively linear appearance to the upper edge of the infiltrate.  However this is a supine film and the diaphragm can be easily seen on the right side.  Effusions, unless loculated, will layer posteriorly in a supine film and the entire lung space will look more radio opaque than the opposing lung.  The fact that the diaphragm can be seen indicates the infiltrate doesn’t come into contact with the diaphragm (see prior post describing “silhouette” phenomena).  Thus, this is a right middle lobe infiltrate.

Author:  Russell Jones, M.D.

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Blunt Aortic Injury (BAI)

December 17, 2012


One of my colleagues had a patient come in after a high-speed motor vehicle collision (MVC) and the patient turned out to have a blunt aortic injury (BAI).  Luckily she saved the images for EMREMS:

This first image is a portable AP Chest Xray.  There are multiple findings:

1.  The ETT tube is slightly high, this was corrected (see Post Intubation Eval)

2.  Chest tube is inserted in the left side and the patient has subcutaneous emphysema.  The chest tube could have been put in further but seems to be working.

3.  Notice the loss of normal contour of the aortic knob (aka “indistinct aortic knob”).

4.  The trachea is displaced to the patient’s right

5.  The upper mediastinum seems a little wide although not drastically.

6.  There is loss of the aortopulmonary window (AP window)

For comparison I have a normal AP Chest Xray and have arrows pointing to the normal AP window and aortic knob:

The patient’s Chest Xray is worrisome for traumatic aortic dissection.  Here is the patient’s Chest CT which confirms the diagnosis:

In the first image one can see a rough inner surface of the aorta indicating intimal disruption and hematoma.  A dissection flap can be seen in the second image.  Hematoma can be seen on both images surrounding the aorta and tracking in the mediastinum.

What are some other signs on Chest Xray that would get you worried about BAI? (Comments are encouraged)

Stay tuned in the future for a “Radiology Rules” 3X5 card with Chest Xray signs of BAI.

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

Image contributor:  Kendra Grether-Jones, MD

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Answer: Post-intubation Eval

December 6, 2012


This radiograph was posted yesterday and I posed the question:  Is the endotracheal tube (ETT) in good position?

normal-intubation2 edited 1

This ETT is in great position on the AP chest radiograph.  Every ETT should have a radiopaque line extending to the tip in order to identify the tube length.  Ideally the tip of the ETT (arrow) should be midway between the thoracic inlet (top dotted line) and the carina (bottom dotted line).  Some pointers:

  • The thoracic inlet on chest XR is roughly at the level of the clavicles.  Anatomically it is the superior portion of the manubrium anteriorly.  This is the level of the subglottis area and upper trachea.
  • The carina is usually located around T5-T7 and is usually easily identified on chest XR.  If you have difficulty draw a line from the inferior main bronchi and they intersect at the carina.
  • The ETT in a normal adult can advance and retract up to 2cm with neck flexion and extension.  Therefore it is recommended that the ETT is at least 2cm from the carina and 2cm from the thoracic inlet.
  • Most commonly the ETT will be placed in the right mainstem bronchus if placed improperly in the airway.
  • Signs that the ETT is in the esophagus include a dilated, air filled stomach and esophagus.  And…oh yeah…the patient may not be doing well.
  • With digital imaging it is easy to play with the intensity if you cannot identify the tube or carina.  Also, inverting the image to a “negative” image can sometimes help.

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

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Post intubation eval

December 5, 2012


For all those beginning their career here’s a post-intubation chest XR.  Can you identify the end of the endotracheal tube?  Is it in good position?

Answer to follow.

Author:  Russell Jones, MD

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