The Yankauer suction catheter has a long and storied history in both emergency medicine and routine care. Developed in 1907, it has been a mainstay of airway management for more than a century. Dr. Yankauer was a groundbreaking provider in his time, who wanted to carefully suction surgical patients without damaging delicate tissue.


For decades, the Yankauer suction tip remained in use because it was the best medicine had to offer. However, tradition isn’t always best in medicine, and the Yankauer catheter presents many barriers to correct use. The SSCOR DuCanto Catheter is a more effective, user-friendly alternative. 


The Challenge of the Yankauer Suction Catheter 

The Yankauer suction catheter has remained popular because it was the first of its kind. There is no doubt that it has saved lives, but it has also cost them due to the many challenges of use. 


With its relatively narrow passageway, the Yankauer catheter clears the airway more slowly than it should. At SSCOR we find that many providers get so frustrated with the catheter’s easy clogging that they detach it and use the connective tubing instead. 


A 2016 study found that alternative catheters outperformed the Yankauer, and specifically cited the device’s low flow rate. And research published in 2017 confirms that, even with ideal use by a well-trained operator, the small holes of the Yankauer tip make clogging common—and perhaps even inevitable. 


Inexperienced providers may believe the problem is their technique, not the catheter. More experienced professionals are increasingly recognizing that ongoing use of the Yankauer suction tip creates harmful inertia that delays quality care and increases morbidity and mortality. A 1999 series of case reports outlined several specific instances in which inadequate suctioning led to serious negative patient outcomes. 


Alternatives to a Yankauer Suction Catheter

In his time, Dr. Yankauer was a revered medical revolutionary and prolific inventor. Today, James DuCanto is following in Dr. Yankauer footsteps. Our SSCOR DuCanto suction tip, named for this brilliant mind, is the SSCOR alternative to the Yankauer tip. Its large diameter offers high volume, rapid-flow suction, and greatly reduces the risk of clogs in an emergency. By using the largest possible diameter of the connecting tube, you can greatly increase flow rate and further lower the risk of clogs. 


Importantly, the SSCOR DuCanto tip does not have a thumb port requiring occlusion during suctioning. This means it also requires less dexterity, and can work well even for novice providers in high-stress situations. 


The SSCOR DuCanto Catheter has also proven indispensable during Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination (SALAD), a procedure that can save the lives of bleeding or aspirating patients. You can see a live demonstration of the SSCOR DuCanto Catheter here. 


How to Use a Yankauer if You Need To

The Yankauer is unlikely to disappear from emergency rooms and ambulances any time soon. In order to minimize the risk when you do have to use it, you and your team should: 

  • Train in the use of various suction techniques regularly. Make sure your training sessions mimic the real world—not perfect, easy suctioning with easy airways. 
  • Consider asking the most skilled member of your team to perform suctioning when a Yankauer catheter is involved. 
  • Have a backup plan for if suctioning fails or the tubing clogs. 
  • Keep all of your equipment together, so you can easily replace clogged equipment rather than delay patient care. 

The right tip is just one component of effective suctioning. In an emergency, you need a portable suction machine that can quickly and efficiently suction a patient, without the need to move them to a different area of the hospital or transport them to another facility. For help finding the right portable suction device for your agency, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.