Bedside Ultrasound for Tracheal Tube Verification in Pediatric Emergency Department and ICU Patients: A Systematic Review∗

Margaret J. Lin, Kiersten Gurley, Beatrice Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: Improper placement of the tracheal tube during intubation can lead to dangerous complications, and bedside ultrasound has been proposed as a method of quickly and accurately identifying tube placement. Recent studies in adults have found it to be accurate, but its applicability in pediatric patients is unclear. This systematic review aims to describe the current available data on the accuracy and feasibility of bedside ultrasound for tracheal tube placement in children. Data Sources: OVID MEDLINE and EMBASE. Study Selection: Available articles on bedside neck or lung/diaphragm ultrasound for confirmation of tracheal tube placement in children through December 2015. Data Extraction: Two reviewers screened studies for eligibility and abstracted data independently. The quality of selected articles was evaluated using Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies statement. Data Synthesis: A total of nine articles were identified: one study using neck ultrasound, two using lung/diaphragmatic ultrasound, one with both, and five studies looking at direct visualization of the tracheal tube tip met our inclusion criteria. There were 81 intubations evaluated using neck ultrasound, 214 intubations evaluated using diaphragmatic or pleural sliding, and 165 intubations evaluated for feasibility of bedside ultrasound in visualizing tracheal tube tip placement. The sensitivities of transtracheal ultrasound for intubation were overall high ranging from 0.92 to 1.00 with excellent specificities at 1.00. For lung ultrasound, the sensitivities for tracheal placement versus esophageal placement were high at 1.00, but only one study reported esophageal intubations and had a specificity of 1.00. When assessing the appropriate tracheal tube depth for tracheal intubations using lung ultrasound, the sensitivities ranged from 0.91 to 1.00 with specificities ranging from 0.5 to 1.0. Regarding feasibility of direct visualization of tracheal tube tip, visualization ranged from 83% to 100%. Conclusion: Bedside ultrasound has been described to be feasible in determining tracheal tube placement in several small single center studies and could be a useful adjunct tool in confirming tracheal tube placement in critically ill pediatric patients, but further studies are needed to assess its accuracy in a randomized multicenter setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e469-e476
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • bedside ultrasound
  • critical care
  • emergency medicine
  • intubation
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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