Preparing suctioning equipment and supplies

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Learn how to set up a suction machine, what equipment you will need and which size catheter you should use for your child.

Key points

  • Before you begin suctioning, you should be comfortable setting up the suction machine, know the equipment you need and which size catheter to use.
  • Check your suctioning equipment every day to make sure it is working properly and everything is clean.
  • Different suctioning catheters may be used for different types of suctioning, so it is important to know which one you need.

Whichever method of suctioning you use, you should first be comfortable setting up the suction machine, gathering your equipment and knowing which size catheter to use.

Suction machine and suppliesSupplies for tracheostomy suctioning - a manual syringe, suction catheters and tubing, a suction machine, saline nebules and a mask and gloves to protect the caregiver from droplets

Setting up the suction machine

  1. Connect the suction tubing to the canister.
  2. Check the suction pressure by turning on the unit and covering the end of the tubing with your finger. Look at the number on the gauge, and make sure it is the number set by your health-care provider. This should be checked each time before you suction.
    • Pressure setting for neonates (newborn): 60-80 mmHg
    • Pressure setting for infants: 80-100 mmHg
    • Pressure setting for children/teens: 100-120 mmHg
  3. Attach the correct suction catheter, Yankauer or tip to the tubing.
  4. Proceed with suctioning.

What other equipment do I need for suctioning?

Additional equipment and suppliesSupplies for suctioning - suction catheters and tubing, a suction machine, good light source, towel, sterile water and container, oximeter and oxygen if prescribed

Additional equipment and supplies

  • Sterile or distilled water
  • Clean container for flushing solution
  • Clean disposable gloves (to avoid direct contact with secretions from your child; sterile gloves are not needed)
  • Water-based lubricant for nasopharyngeal suctioning
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Good light source
  • Towel or small blanket for positioning if needed
  • Oximeter and probes (if applicable)
  • Oxygen, if needed
  • Plastic bag for soiled supplies

What to look for when checking equipment

  1. Check your equipment every day to make sure that the:
    • suction pressure is set
    • filter is clean
    • tubing is clean
    • canister is clean
    • machine is plugged in or battery is charged
  2. Ensure you have the correct size suction catheters.

Your child’s health-care professional will help you determine the best size catheter for your child. Please make note of the catheter size and the required pressure setting on the suction machine.

Types of suctioning

Correct suctioning depths
Use the pre-measured suction catheters (where available) to make sure you are suctioning at the correct depth.

The following pages teach you how to do:

Types of suctioning catheters

Different catheters may be used for nasal, oral, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal suctioning:

  • Tip catheters are used for nasal and oral suctioning.
  • Little Suckers are used for nasal and oral suctioning.
  • Yankauer catheter is used for oral suctioning.
  • A longer suction catheter can be used for nasal, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal suctioning, as seen in the image below.
Types of suction cathetersDifferent types of suctioning catheters shown including Little Sucker, Yankauer, and tip catheters.
Last updated: February 20th 2020