Sonarmed out of Indianapolis, Indiana has received FDA clearance to market the company’s Airway Monitoring System (AMS), a device that uses ultrasound reflectometry to track the position of the endotracheal tube and continuously assesses it for patency. The system can supposedly alert clinicians if the ET tube has an obstruction, whether it is due to mucus plugs, tube advancement, or a kink. The company believes that its technology may “reduce sometimes-unnecessary medical procedures routinely performed during airway management (such as chest x-rays and suctioning) which may reduce associated costs and risks (for example, radiation exposure).”
From the product page:
The SonarMed Airway Monitoring System consists of:
1. A portable digital monitor that displays details about ETT position and patency
2. A sterilized, disposable adapter (and cable) that is compatible with ETT sizes 6.5-9.0 mm ID and replaces the standard ETT-ventilator adapter
Using principles similar to sonar, the SonarMed AMS sends a sound signal into the breathing tube and records the returning echoes that arise from within the tube and patient airways. The timing and amplitude of these echoes are analyzed by the system to non-invasively measure:
Tube Tip Movement: The system estimates relative movements of the tube by tracking the timing of an echo that comes from within the lungs. This information may help clinicians identify and correct situations that can lead to unplanned extubation or endobronchial intubation. Passageway Size Around Tube Tip: The system analyzes the echo that comes from the tube tip to estimate the size of the passageway relative to tube size. This information may help clinicians identify and correct esophageal intubation and endobronchial intubation. Degree and Location of Obstructions Within the Tube: The system analyzes the timing and amplitude of echoes that come from within the tube to estimate the location and size of obstructions. This may help clinicians identify an obstruction that forms in the breathing tube so it can be removed before the patient is harmed. It may also help the clinician differentiate patient biting from lung secretion buildup by noting if the reported location of the obstruction is near the patient’s teeth.