Your Guide to Tubes, Connectors, and Common NICU Medical Equipment

Written by Kentec Medical

Find out what all the tubes and connectors you see in the NICU are for and learn how ENFit® can help improve patient outcomes. 

A lot of equipment goes into keeping a baby safe and healthy in the NICU. While it can seem overwhelming at first glance, each piece of equipment has a specific and essential purpose. This list takes a closer look at some of the most common equipment used in the NICU and the important role each tube or connector plays. 

What Will You Find in a NICU?

NICU medical equipment includes a variety of tubes and connectors that work together to keep infants safe when they are at their most vulnerable. Some of the most important pieces of equipment you’ll encounter in the NICU are: 

Arterial lines: This thin tube goes into the baby’s artery to check their blood pressure and measure blood gases to ensure everything is in balance. 

Central lines: This small tube goes into a larger blood vessel, delivering medicine and fluids to the baby. NICU nurses can also draw blood through it.

Endotracheal tubes: This tube is essential for helping infants in the NICU breathe. First, the tube is attached to a machine called a mechanical ventilator. Then it’s inserted into the baby’s nose or mouth and through to the windpipe, also called the trachea. This helps send air and oxygen into the baby’s lungs. 

Gastronomy tubes: This tube, also called a G-tube or gastric feeding tube, is used to feed babies who can’t take in food through their mouths. The tube goes directly into the baby’s stomach to deliver liquids and nutrients.

Intravenous lines: Also called an IV line, this thin tube is inserted into the baby’s vein with a needle. It can be used to deliver medicine, blood, and fluids. 

Nasal cannula: These small plastic tubes go into the baby’s nose to help bring oxygen to their lungs. 

Nasogastric tubes: Also known as an NG tube, this feeding tube goes through the baby’s nose, down the esophagus, and down into the stomach. The baby can receive breast milk, formula, and medicine through the NG tube. 

Orogastric tubes: The OG tube is similar to the NG tube in that it goes down the baby’s esophagus and into the stomach, and also can be used to give the baby breast milk, formula, and medicine. The only difference is that the OG tube begins at the baby’s mouth instead of in their nose. 

Tracheostomy tubes: This curved plastic tube goes in the baby’s windpipe through a hole that’s been surgically placed in their neck. The baby then breathes through the tube instead of through their nose or mouth. The tracheostomy tube doesn’t go all the way into the baby’s lungs.

Improving Patient Safety with ENFit®  

There’s a high risk of misconnection in the NICU with so many different tubes at play, and misconnections can have serious, even life-threatening consequences for an infant. At best, connecting incompatible devices together can prevent the baby from receiving vital nutrients or result in a medication error. At worst, a misconnection can cause a fatal injury. 

ENFit® products improve patient safety by eliminating misconnections and reducing opportunities for human error. ENFit® standardized enteral connectors, all of which are compliant with the new ISO standard 80369-3, are specifically designed with a “force function” feature that ensures each product — whether it’s a syringe or an enteral connector — can only be connected to other ENFit® products. With ENFit® connectors in place, it’s highly unlikely that an enteral tube could be accidentally connected to any neighboring tubes like an IV line.

Improving Patient Safety with Kentec Medical

For concerned parents, knowing the ins and outs of common medical equipment used in the NICU can give them peace of mind during a stressful time. For procurement managers and hospital stakeholders, being mindful of how many different tubes and connectors are involved in a baby’s care helps emphasize the importance of preventing misconnections.

The need for secure, leak-free connections in the NICU has driven hospitals across the globe to adopt ENFit® products. Of course, phasing out existing legacy systems to make room for a new product can seem daunting. For procurement managers transitioning their hospitals to ENFit®, successful implementation depends on having a partner who will be in your corner throughout the entire process.

At Kentec Medical, we’re ready to be that partner. We know that unmatched customer service is the key to providing value, delivering a better patient experience, and improving health outcomes in NICUs worldwide. We’ll guide you through the entire transition process so you can be sure your facilities are outfitted with the best, safest enteral connectors available. If you want to learn more about how Kentec Medical can help you adopt ENFit® or just replenish your hospital’s supply of safety enteral products, contact us today.




Works Referenced

ISO 80369-3:2016. (2017, November 08). Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.iso.org/standard/50731.html