Skip to main content
Explore URMC


Suctioning While on a Ventilator

View a video about suctioning while on a vent.

Closed suctioning Ballard tubingWhen using a closed suctioning technique (Ballard), you do not need to disconnect your child from the ventilator to be suctioned.

This closed system allows the suction catheter to remain clean.

Supplies You Need

Gather all your supplies in a clean work area.

  • Closed Suction Catheter (Ballard) of correct size. This will be attached to child’s trach/ventilator.
  • Suction machine
  • Pink “Saline Squirts.”
    At home you may use bottled water and syringe from your home care company.

How to Suction

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Attach suction catheter to suction system.
    • Make sure that suction is on and functioning properly.
    • Make sure that thumb valve is “unlocked.”
  3. With one hand, hold the trach tube so it doesn’t move. Use the other hand to insert the catheter to the premeasured depth.
    • Measure to the end of the trach tube.
  4. Do not apply suction while inserting the catheter into the trach tube.
  5. Apply suction by pushing down thumb valve while you slowly remove the catheter. Be sure to hold on to the trach while removing the catheter.
    • It’s important to hold on to the trach so it doesn’t accidentally get pulled out of place.
  6. Don’t suction for more than 10 seconds.
    • Suctioning decreases the amount of oxygen (air) that your child is receiving. The suction catheter also blocks the trach tube, making it difficult for the child to take a breath.
  7. Wait at least 30 seconds between each time you suction. This allows your child time to rest and breathe.
  8. Be sure to clean out the Ballard to remove secretions. To do this, attach a saline pink squirt to the saline port. Then apply suction while squirting in the saline.
    • Be sure to suction while instilling saline to prevent it from going down the trach.
    • Some vendors will only provide saline bottles and syringes to clean out Ballards. Ask your vendor how to clean the Ballard this way at home.