Suction Machines and Aspirators Operation and Maintenance

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Applications[edit | edit source]

In surgery, suction is used to remove blood, saliva, other biological material and foreign detritus from an anatomical passage or from a working field. A suction-irrigator can simultaneously perfuse and collect a saline solution where washing is required.

Suction is indispensable to clear the airway of blood, mucous, vomitus or other obstructing material. Consequently, suction machines can be found in emergency rooms, ambulances, patient wards and cafeterias.

A central vacuum pump connected to a building-wide network of suction plumbing is termed a "house vacuum". This is an efficient alternative to multiple small machines distributed throughout the building. Nevertheless the individual machines are necessary for mobile use and for backup during failure of a house vacuum.

Fluid Flow Path[edit | edit source]

Liquid blocking

Classes of Machines[edit | edit source]

Bedside and Emergency[edit | edit source]

The contemporary Gomco 4040 Aspirator. Typical of machines used at the bedside and in an emergency room or cafeteria.

Surgical[edit | edit source]

The Gyrus ACMI Berkeley VC-10 machine marketed for gynecological surgery. A pneumatic foot operated actuator is connected.

Portable[edit | edit source]

A Laerdal portable suction machine with battery and power cord.

Components[edit | edit source]

Inlet Accessories[edit | edit source]

A disposable sterile curette made of clear plastic. Typically connected to a suction line and used in surgical procedures.

A suction catheter, 16 French by 53 cm, made of moderately soft and flexible plastic.

Suction Tubes[edit | edit source]

Collection Vessels[edit | edit source]

A Laerdal 1 litre collection vessel. Two are visible atop the Gyrus ACMI machine illustrated above.

Limiting Devices[edit | edit source]

A pump will tolerate a gas phase well and a liquid phase poorly. The limiting device has the function of allowing air and vapor to pass while blocking liquid from reaching the pump. The limiting device is essential to protect the pump.

Overflow Valves[edit | edit source]

A common implementation of an overflow valve is a spherical element similar to a ping-pong ball which will block the suction channel when elevated. The ball is buoyant and is elevated by increasing level of liquid. Such a valve is below the lid of the Laerdal collection vessel. The ball is immediately above the blue dyed water. The valve must be cleaned thoroughly along with other surfaces in the vessel when it is emptied and cleaned.

Inlet Filters[edit | edit source]

Another means of blocking liquid is to pass the flow through a textile filter. The dry filter passes the gas phase. Surface tension of a liquid phase prevents flow through the textile. Therefore the filter blocks liquid flow. A contaminated and blocked filter must be discarded and replaced.

Vacuum Gages[edit | edit source]

The rear or mechanical side of the vacuum gauge of a Gomco 3020 aspirator.

Vacuum Regulators[edit | edit source]

The vacuum regulator valve used in several Gomco aspirators, dismantled. A simple plastic needle valve which reduces the vacuum by admitting atmospheric air through an opening in the top of the body of the valve. The opening is too small to be visible in this photo.

Vacuum Pumps[edit | edit source]

Actuators[edit | edit source]

Exhaust Filters[edit | edit source]

Operation[edit | edit source]

Bedside and Emergency[edit | edit source]

Application of suction to clear the upper airway. The outside diameter of the suction tube is 16 Fr = 5.3 mm. The suction release port is above the thumb and finger of the right hand of the operator. Suction is applied by restricting or blocking the port with the thumb.


Surgical[edit | edit source]

Low volume oral suction as used by a dental hygienist or dental surgeon.

High volume suction, right, with a pneumatic dental drill, left.