Journal Published Online: 10 March 2004
Volume 49, Issue 3

Esophageal and Pharyngeal Injuries Associated with the Use of the Esophageal-Tracheal Combitube



The Combitube® is a ventilatory device consisting of a twin lumen tube with proximal and distal inflatable cuffs. The major benefit of the Combitube® is that its design and function allow for ventilation through non-laryngoscope-assisted insertion into either the trachea, or esophagus. As with any invasive procedure, intubation using the Combitube® carries certain risks and potential complications. The majority of complications are relatively minor; however, a rare and serious complication reported primarily in the anesthesiology literature is laceration of the esophagus. This reportedly rare injury is increasingly seen by medical examiners/coroners in the forensic setting.

This paper presents a series of three cases of esophageal laceration and a single case of perforation of the hypopharynx associated with the use of the Combitube®, while also exploring potential mechanisms of injury. In addition, this work demonstrates the vital role the medical examiner/coroner plays in identifying existing or potential problems with current or emerging medical devices.

Author Information

Stoppacher, R
Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, Milwaukee, WI
Teggatz, JR
Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, Milwaukee, WI
Jentzen, J
Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, Milwaukee, WI
Pages: 6
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS2003342
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS2003342