Users of battery powered portable suction devices often comment the device “sucks”. This can either be a negative or a positive comment. In the case of the former, there are 3 ways to increase the performance of your portable suction device in order to turn the negative into a positive comment.


The first two ways to increase the performance of your battery powered suction device are pure physics and based on Poiseuille’s Equation, the physical law concerning the flow of fluids through a cylindrical tube.


Without getting too technical, this equation simply means that fluid travels more quickly through a tube that has a larger diameter and shorter length than fluid traveling through a longer tube with a smaller diameter. Based on Poiseuille’s Equation, there  are two ways to increase the performance of your portable suction device:


1. Use a shorter, longer diameter patient tube

Typically a 6-foot length of patient tubing is used when suctioning a patient. If you are using this longer patient tube, is that length necessary? In certain instances when you can bring your portable suction device right to the head of the patient a shorter tube may be adequate. Patient tubing is available in shorter lengths (3 feet) and this shorter patient tube can be used to more efficiently perform suctioning procedures.


A comparison test using 6 foot patient tubing vs. 3 foot patient tubing when suctioning plain yogurt indicated the 3-foot length of patient tubing was 800% faster removing the yogurt than the 6 foot length of patient tubing.


Inside diameters of commercially available patient tubes range from 3/16” to 9/32”. Poiseuille informs us the larger the diameter, the more rapidly fluid will travel through the tube, and therefore, away from the patient. Find patient tubing with the largest inside diameter (9/32”) for your battery powered portable suction device!


2. Use a larger diameter suction catheter

Now that you have maximized the effectiveness of your patient tubing, why would you settle for a restrictive suction tip? The most popular suction catheters have a very small inside diameter (approximately .14”). These suction tips are useful when suctioning blood and saliva, however, they are often ineffective when presented with thicker material such as tenacious mucous and vomitus. In fact, the standard suction tip used for oropharyngeal suction is often called a ‘tonsil tip’ because it is used during tonsillectomies where blood and mucous are the only materials encountered.


There aresuction catheters available with larger suction lumens that more closely approximate the internal diameter of the largest patient tubing. Using a suction catheter with a larger inside diameter will increase the performance of your portable suction device.


A comparison test we conducted using the ISO standard for vomitus material (water mixed with xanthan gum) and a SSCOR Model 74000 Suction device showed a 13% improvement in suction time using the larger diameter HI‐D suction tip vs. a standard Yankauer suction tip.


3. The 3rd way to increase your performance is to check your battery

The final way to increase the performance of your battery-powered suction device is related to the maintenance and characteristics of batteries. As with all battery powered devices, a healthy and fully functioning battery is essential for the successful use of your battery-powered portable suction device. Test your device by determining if the device reaches the maximum negative pressure rating (typically over 525mmHg) using a calibrated test gauge. To determine if your battery has lost capacity and should be replaced:

  1. Charge the device fully.
  2. Turn your suction device on and allow it to run for approximately 15 minutes.
  3. If the device stops or slows during the 15 minute run, replace the battery with a battery at full capacity to maximize the performance of your battery powered portable suction device.


Effective suctioning and using the right equipment can have a big impact on patient health and comfort. Make sure you are using your portable, battery powered suction machine in the most effective manner possible.


Get the most performance out of your battery powered portable suction device. Click on this link to learn about SSCOR disposables that can increase the performance of your suction device: SSCOR Disposables.