What is a Yankauer Suction Catheter

In 1907, otolaryngologist Sidney Yankauer revolutionized the world of medical suction with his eponymous Yankauer suction catheter. Dr. Yankauer worked at the outpatient surgery department of Mount Sinai Hospital and while there, this unassuming ENT specialist invented numerous pieces of medical equipment. Dr. Yankauer is hailed as a medical genius and admired for his prolific publishing output.


The Yankauer suction tip would prove to be his most lasting contribution and is one of the most commonly used medical suction instruments globally.


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The Birth of the Yankauer Suction Tip 

In 1907, Dr. Yankauer identified clearing the throat during a tonsillectomy as a critical predictor of the procedure’s success and safety. His experiments with different devices ultimately produced the rigid, angled Yankauer suction tip. The device remains in popular usage during many surgical procedures. It’s also used frequently for emergency and prehospital suctioning, as well as in some dental offices.


Among Dr. Yankauer’s medical device inventions included: an electrode to fulgurate growths in the larynx, a pharyngeal speculum, a radium needle for the esophagoscope, and numerous other tools still in use today. He died of heart disease at just 60 years old, but his legacy of medical genius has lived on.


About the Yankauer Suction Tip

Usually made of stainless steel or plastic, a Yankauer suction tip is rigid and hollow. It features an opening for rapid clearing and a bulbous head that offers ready access to delicate laryngeal tissue without the risk of damaging it. The suction catheter is curved for easy access.


Commonly used to prevent aspiration, the Yankauer tip is also used to clear the airway during dental and medical surgeries—including, of course, the surgery for which the tip was originally developed: the tonsillectomy. Interestingly, the total volume of secretions suctioned by a Yankauer suction tip during surgery is counted as blood loss.


Another Medical Revolution: The SSCOR Improvement on the Yankauer

At SSCOR, we’ve taken a cue from Dr. Yankauer’s playbook. Medical technology can always be improved – even something as revered as the Yankauer suction tip. Our own suction tip, the SSCOR DuCanto catheter, is named for Dr. Jim DuCanto, a medical genius in the spirit of Dr. Yankauer.


This rigid catheter is designed for emergency and routine airway management in both surgical and prehospital settings. It is uniquely designed to facilitate Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination (SALAD). This technique, developed by Dr. DuCanto, can help clear and protect the airway even when a patient is continuously vomiting or bleeding.


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Medical technology must change and evolve to meet the needs of patients. At SSCOR, we’re proud to offer a roster of catheters that promote effective suctioning while minimizing the risk of iatrogenic injuries. View more of our catheters and other disposables – much like the Yankauer tip of a century ago, these catheters will stand the test of time. The proof is in their life-saving capabilities.


A suction catheter is only as good as the suction machine to which it is attached. The right suction machine effectively and safely clears the airway, reduces the risks of clogs, boasts a long battery life, and is easily transported to patients in need. These features of an excellent portable suction machine are more than mere conveniences: they can save lives.


So which portable suction machine is right for your agency? That depends on whom you serve. We can help you select the right device for your needs. To learn more, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.


Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in July 2022. It has been re-published with additional up-to-date content.