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To the Editor:—
The percutaneous transtracheally placed polyethylene catheter described by Myers, R.N., et al (JAMA192:960-972 [June 14] 1965) for postoperative cough induction is occasionally very helpful in obtaining diagnostic sputum specimens.It is ideal for obtaining a good sputum from semicomatose, or uncooperative patients, or those in whom a sputum specimen collected via an intratracheal catheter passed through a crusted, dirty mouth has produced a confusing variety of organisms. A large catheter (Intracath or Deseret) is passed into the trachea percutaneously, 1 or 2 cc of sterile saline is injected into the trachea, and suction on the syringe is maintained during the resultant paroxysm of coughing. The resultant sputum specimen, though small, is not contaminated by passage through the pharynx and mouth. Several years ago this method was reported to have no complications in a large series from a New York tuberculosis sanatorium.
Felitti VJ. Percutaneous Polyethylene Tube Tracheostomy. JAMA. 1965;193(6):546. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090060136024
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