Suction Machines and Aspirators Operation and Maintenance

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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.

General Schematic[edit]

Classes of Machines[edit]

Bedside and Emergency[edit]

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


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


A Laerdal portable suction machine with battery and power cord.


Inlet Accessories[edit]

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.

Inlet Filters[edit]

Overflow Valves[edit]

Collection Vessels[edit]

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


Vacuum Gages[edit]

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

Vacuum Regulators[edit]

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]


Exhaust Filters[edit]


Bedside and Emergency[edit]

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.



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

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