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Clinical Guidelines (Nursing)

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Tracheostomy Suctioning

  • Equipment

    • Suction wall attachment or portable unit
    • Suction canister
    • Tubing
    • Suction catheter
    • Sterile water 


    • Ensure  tracheostomy kit is present
    • Appropriate size suction catheter
    • Depth required for tracheostomy tube suctioning3
    • Appropriate suction pressure. 
    The correct suction pressure for use on a tracheostomy tube is 80-120mmHgmaximumwhen occluded.  The Medigas suction gauges on the ward are measured on kPa.  The equivalent of 80-120mmHg is 10-16kPa.


    • Explain to the patient and their family that you are going to suction the tracheostomy tube.
    • Utilise personal protective equipment including non sterile gloves and safety glasses.
    • Suction using a clean, non touch technique.
    • Gently introduce the suction catheter into the tracheostomy tube to the pre-measured depth.3
    • Apply suction & gently rotate the catheter while withdrawing. Each suction should not be any longer than 5-10 seconds.3
    • Assess the patient's respiratory rate, skin colour and/or oximetry reading to ensure the patient has not been compromised during the procedure.  Repeat the suction as indicated by the patient's individual condition.
    • Rinse the suction catheter with sterile water decanted into bowl, not directly from bottle. 
    • Look at the secretions in the suction tubing - they should be clear or white and move easily through the tubing.
    • Notify the parent team if the secretions are abnormal, and consider sending a specimen for culture and sensitivity.

    Special Considerations

    • Some patients may require assisted ventilation before and after suctioning. If required, this will be requested by the parent medical team or Respiratory Nurse.
    • If the correct size suction catheter does not pass easily into the tracheostomy tube, suspect a blocked or partially blocked tube and prepare for immediate  tracheostomy tube change


    Tracheostomy Management Guideline


    Please remember to read the disclaimer.
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