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The Wangensteen method for suctional drainage of the gastrointestinal tract is now widely used in the management of surgical patients. At first it was used for relief of intestinal obstruction, and more recently it has been employed to combat abdominal distention of all types, particularly after operation. In some instances it is used preoperatively as a prophylactic measure, particularly in cases in which distention may be anticipated.
The value of the procedure of gastrointestinal decompression is firmly established, but the Wangensteen apparatus presents certain difficulties that make the procedure burdensome, especially to the nursing staff. The equipment is cumbersome to handle, and its function is frequently interrupted by faulty connections, collapsed or kinked tubing and at times too much suction. Errors in setting it up may even cause reversal of flow, filling the gastrointestinal tract with water. I have found it particularly difficult to maintain suction with these units in
Leithauser DJ. A SIMPLIFIED SUCTION UNIT FOR INTESTINAL DECOMPRESSION. JAMA. 1945;127(3):157-158. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.92860030002007a