Typical Number in Hospital: 100 Cost Bands: 3,4 References: 2

This usually refers to a portable suction apparatus used in wards and theatres for aspirating fluids and vomit from the mouth and airways, and from operation sites by sucking the material through a catheter into a bottle. The term could also apply to devices which operate from piped vacuum supplies or bottle gas cylinders but is more commonly used to mean electric suction units which contain a vacuum pump (piston, diaphragm, or rotary vane), bacterial filter, vacuum gauge, trap for moisture (or any debris accidentally drawn into the mechanism), a reservoir for the aspirated material, and a suction catheter or nozzle. They may be intended to provide high or low vacuum, and high and low flow rates. Low vacuum is used for post-operative wound drainage.

The main reservoir is usually a glass bottle with volume marks up the side and sometimes this has a float valve so that the vacuum is cut off before the bottle becomes full enough to allow the contents to be drawn into the pipework of the pumping mechanism. However, frothing of the contents can sometimes defeat the float valve mechanism.

They may sometimes be described as high-grade or low-grade suction machines, which relates to the degree of vacuum achieved. High-grade suction machines are used for rapid aspiration of fluids and debris (such as vomit), whereas low-grade machines are used for post-operative wound drainage.

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