Endobronchial blocker device

Last revised by Ryan Thibodeau on 4 Oct 2023

An endobronchial blocker (also sometimes referred to a bronchial blocker) is a flexible tube with an inflatable balloon at its distal end. The device is purposefully inserted into the proximal aspect of a main bronchus to induce one lung ventilation. It may be placed via bronchoscopic guidance or through the endotracheal tube 1.

Indications

The utilization of endobronchial blockers vary 2. Commonly, an endobronchial tube is used during cardiothoracic surgery to access anatomic structures within the thorax. It is sometimes used in the acute setting to preferentially ventilate a lung, such as in the setting of unilateral hemoptysis. In the latter setting, the endobronchial blocker could assist two-fold - tamponade at the site of hemorrhage and improving ventilation to the unaffected lung.

Radiographic features

Plain radiograph

They appear as a semi-rigid tube that descends the trachea and terminates within one of the two mainstem bronchi. At first glance, it may appear as a malpositioned endotracheal tube (too distal). Differentiating an endobronchial tube from an endotracheal tube may be difficult, but a potential distinguishing feature is that the distal tip tends to be blunted, while endotracheal tubes tend to have a beveled edge. Furthermore, distinguishing an endobronchial tube from a double lumen endotracheal tube may be difficult.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: endobronchial blocker
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