Airway Clearance Using Suction Devices in Prehospital Combat Casualty Care: A Systematic Review. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 1-7. 2020

Jain, P., Akhter, F., Schoppe, A., Hood, R., & De Lorenzo, R.


Airway management is at the forefront for combat medics dealing with battlefield trauma. For military service members, compromised airways are the second leading cause of potentially survivable death on the battlefield, accounting for one in ten preventable combat deaths. Effective suction is a critical component of airway clearance. However, currently available devices are too heavy and bulky to be carried by combat medics and are insufficiently powered. The industry has not responded to the need, with companies continuing to produce models using 1970s technology. A literature review was completed with the assistance of a librarian. The databases searched included: Biomedical Research Database (BRD), Computer Retrieval of Information of Scientific Projects (CRISP), Federal Research in Progress (FEDRIP), Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC), Pub Med/Medline, and OVID. Additionally, a Google Scholar search was performed to identify nonstandard sources. After screening, a total of 40 articles were used. There were no randomized controlled trials or other high-quality evidence that addressed the issues; there was limited peer-reviewed literature on the use, effectiveness, adverse effects, and safety of suction for use in combat casualty care. A review of the available literature revealed no standards, either proposed, validated, or accepted, for the safety or avoidance of adverse effects for portable suction device use in combat casualty care. Similarly, there are no accepted standards to guide the safe use and anticipated adverse effects of suction for use in prehospital combat or emergency care. Nevertheless, there are meaningful data that can be extracted from the few studies available combined with non-clinical studies, narrative reviews and case reports, and expert opinions.

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