You’ve probably watched at least one dramatic television scene involving a doctor using a ballpoint pen to perform an emergency airway puncture (if not, here is a particularly awesome one from a Korean doctor drama). So, if you are ever in that particular situation, you know what to do. But what if there is a range of ballpoint pens to choose from… which will you choose?!? Instead of standing there with analysis paralysis, read this:
“OBJECTIVE:To examine the suitability of commonly available ballpoint pens as a substitute emergency tracheostomy tube. METHODS: Commonly available ballpoint pens were examined and compared against two standard cricothyroidotomy sets. The pens were evaluated for dimensions, speed of construction of a temporary tracheostomy tube and airway resistance with differing flow rates. RESULTS: Internal diameters of the pens varied considerably. Time taken to construct a temporary tube ranged from 3 to 170 s, and in the majority of pens the airway resistance increased dramatically as the airflow rate increased. CONCLUSION: Contrary to popular belief, the majority of ballpoint pens appear unsuitable for use as a substitute tracheostomy tube. In this study only two pens fulfilled the criteria for use: the Baron retractable ballpoint and the BIC soft feel Jumbo.”
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