If you are in the market for a portable suction device, you’ll notice that there is a large variety of different products available. Depending upon your intended use, you will need to evaluate several things. Consider, for example:



Another very important differentiation to note 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 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.


Guide: Portable Emergency Suction: A Critial Tool In Avoiding Aspiration  Pneumonia


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. Some procedures, like continuous gastric suction, require the amount of suction applied to be set at specified levels. Additionally, very low suction levels 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 backup 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 debating which type of portable suction device is better, appreciate the great versatility of 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.


Portable suction saves lives. For assistance buying the right emergency equipment, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in March, 2016. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.