A suction tube is a medical device which provides suction by being attached to a suction machine. Suction can be used to clear liquids and slurries away from an area of concern, and it is utilized in many different aspects of medical care. Suction devices are commonly found on ambulances, in hospital rooms, in emergency rooms, and in clinics, with attachable tubing and tips for various applications. Like other medical devices, the suction machine is designed with replaceable tubing and tips which can be changed between patients to limit the spread of disease.
One classic use of suction is in dentistry. While dental work is being performed, someone's mouth can fill with blood and saliva. This poses a risk to the patient, as it may occlude the airway, and it also makes it hard for the dentist to see and work. The suction tube is used to periodically clear the mouth, essentially vacuuming up the excess liquid to clear the area. It can be used by the dentist or by an assistant who provides suction by request or when needed.
In surgery, suction tubes are also used to clear the surgical field. Blood can fill the field, making it difficult for the surgeon to see and complicating the field. Other fluids like mucus and pus can also impede clear vision of the surgical site. In liposuction procedures, a specialized suction tube is used to pull fat cells out of the body, and the suction tube is also used in neurosurgery, where it removes excess liquid and relieves pressure on the skull.
Suction can also be used in the care of patients who are spending time in the hospital for respiratory conditions. Many of these patients require airway suctioning to remove mucus. The suction tube will increase patient comfort, reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia, and keep the lungs clear so that the patient can breathe. Suctioning is also used when a patient is near death to reduce the sound of the distinctive “death rattle,” as this sound can be disconcerting for family members.
The tips on a suction tube can be changed for different applications. Bent and straight tips are available, along with tips of various widths and designs. Some are made from metal, designed for sterilization and reuse, while others are made from plastics, in which case they are disposable and discarded after use so that organisms are not passed between patients.