oxygen in the alveoli. If the patient is old or greatly debilitated, suctioning has the
potential to set off cardiac arrhythmias.
b. Wash your hands, then assemble and set up the suction equipment.
(1) Check the suction and the tubing by aspirating water through the
(2) On the bedside table, place an open package of 4x4 gauze, a sterile
suction catheter, a suction set or sterile basin, a container of sterile water or normal
saline, and sterile gloves.
(3) Set up the suction set or sterile basin. Fill the sterile container with the
sterile water or normal saline.
c. Using aseptic technique, open the catheter package just enough to expose
the connecting end and connect the catheter to the suction tubing. Don the sterile
gloves. Using aseptic technique, remove the catheter from the package and hold it in
your dominant hand. Test the catheter by aspirating some of the sterile solution.
d. Pick up a piece of the gauze with your non-dominant hand and grasp the
patient's tongue. Gently pull the tongue out of the mouth. This will provide a view of the
oropharynx and at the same time raise the epiglottis to permit easier insertion of the
catheter into the trachea. As an alternative method, the catheter may be introduced
through the nose.
e. As the patient inhales, introduce the catheter (with suction diverted) toward
the posterior of the mouth and down the throat into the trachea. The patient will
probably cough at this point. If coughing brings up sufficient secretions to clear the air
passages, the procedure may be discontinued at this point. If not, relax the tongue a bit
and instruct the patient to breathe normally.
f. Apply suction and gently rotate the catheter to aspirate secretions.
Remember to suction for only 5-10 seconds at a time. Withdraw the catheter and rinse
between suctioning by aspirating sterile solution. This will keep the catheter moist and
free of secretions that may block the lumen.
g. Repeat the procedure until the secretions have been cleared. Remember
that frequent catheter introductions irritate the tracheal mucosa, so suction thoroughly to
avoid repeated insertions.
h. Observe the patient closely for changes in color or respiration, disorientation,
or agitation. These could be signs of anoxia. Listen to the patient's breath sounds,
which should become quieter as secretions are removed.