If you are in the market for a portable suction device, you will notice that there is a great variety of different products available to purchase. Depending upon your intended use, you will need to evaluate several things. Consider for example:
- Do you need a suction device that is handheld or that will mount to a crash cart?
- Do you want a portable aspirator that is rechargeable or runs on alkaline batteries?
- Will your device be used in emergent situations or for routine procedures?
Another very important differentiation to note between products relates to the suction itself. Some portable suction devices will have a variable suction regulator, while others will have a suction regulator with two settings. How can you determine which one best suits your needs? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the difference between a variable and a two-setting suction regulator?
A portable suction machine with a variable suction regulator will come equipped with a dial and a gauge indicating the amount of negative pressure that is being applied via suction. Turning the dial changes the amount of suction the unit produces. This permits minute adjustments in suction power, as well as the ability to create large variations in suction, often in a range from 50 mm Hg to 500 mm Hg. With variable suction, one can pinpoint the exact amount of suction being used.
A two-setting suction regulator is more simple. Switching between the settings will change the amount of suction from high to low. Though this will be device-dependent, the “high” setting will generally apply greater than 500 mm Hg of suction, while the “low” setting will deliver more gentle suction, near 100 mm Hg.
How are these different types of suction machines used?
In an emergency and when the airway needs to be cleared quickly, a two-setting regulator can be extremely useful. It can provide a high-level of suction to remove thick secretions from the mouth, yet can easily be changed to an appropriate lower level of suction for the trachea or when suctioning a child. When fast-paced action is necessary, like for an EMS provider in the field, the two-setting has some great advantages because less adjustment is needed.
However, the precision of a variable suction regulator can be desirable as well. Some procedures, like continuous gastric suction, require the amount of suction applied to be set at specified levels. Additionally, very low levels of suction may be needed when dealing with delicate tissues during surgery or when working with a neonate. This can only be achieved with a variable suction regulator. In the hospital, in a home setting, in a long term care facility, or as a back-up in a surgical center, a portable suction unit with a variable regulator may be more beneficial.
So the winner is…?
Both. They each have their own advantages. Instead of trying to debate which type of portable suction device is better, appreciate the great versatility in the products that exist today.
Your choice will ultimately depend on:
- Where you need your portable suction device
- Who you will need to use it on
- What types of suctioning will be needed
Careful consideration of your specific suction needs will determine whether a variable or two-setting suction regulator is right for you.