Preoxygenation and pulse oximetry may delay detection of esophageal intubation

A. J. McShane, J. L. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A case of delayed detection of esophageal intubation is described. Preoxygenation and pulse oximetry were used, and the first indication of tube misplacement was arterial desaturation indicated by the pulse oximeter. The combination of preoxygenation and pulse oximetry may contribute to delays in early detection of endotracheal tube misplacement for the following reasons :(1) preoxygenation results in a pulmonary reservoir of oxygen sufficient to maintain arterial hemoglobin saturation for an extended period of time; and (2) the maintenance of normal arterial saturations for an extended period after inadvertent esophageal tube placement may lead the practitioner to initially seek other causes of declining oxygen saturations. Although pulse oximetry is an acknowledged advance in patient monitoring, it must not be utilized as an early indication of correct endotracheal tube placement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-992
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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