• Aspiration of oral secretions (in the mouth) is necessary when your child cannot effectively swallow or spit out saliva, secretions, blood or vomit.
  • Below is a suggested method that can serve as a guide; discuss the specific type of medical supplies and equipment used for your child with the healthcare team.
  • The pressure regulator should be adjusted according to the recommendations of your child’s healthcare team with the goal of removal of secretions without damage to the fragile lining of the mouth. The level of pressure usually varies according to the age of the child:
    • Infants: between 80 to 100 mmHg
    • Children: between 100 to 120 mmHg
    • Adolescents: between 100 to 150 mmHg.
  • If the secretions are very thick, a slightly higher pressure than usual may be required. If this is the case, then gradually increase the pressure, monitoring your child closely for any signs of mouth irritation or bleeding. Discuss the pressure limits for your child with the healthcare team.
  • Aspiration of the mouth is usually performed using a suction device such as Yankauer suction tip or a suction device such as Little Sucker®. A flexible suction catheter can also be used. Your healthcare team will indicate which type of catheter is most appropriate for your child.
  • If your child has a tracheal cannula with a balloon, it is recommended to aspirate the mouth before deflating the balloon so that secretions to not migrate from the mouth into the lungs inadvertently.
  • Never use:
    • A flexible suction catheter that was used to aspirate oral secretions to aspirate tracheobronchial secretions; it is recommended to use a separate catheter for tracheobronchial aspirations to prevent contamination of the lungs with bacteria from the mouth.
    • A flexible suction catheter that was used to aspirate oral secretions to aspirate nasopharyngeal secretions, unless you have cleaned the catheter well beforehand.
  • To manually aspirate secretions using a mucous trap device, refer to your healthcare team for further instructions.
  • Evaluate the need for a second person to help keep your child in a safe position during aspiration (eg, your child is young or moving around a lot).
  • Good handwashing is essential before and after providing care.
  • Ensure the comfort of your child during care by using different positioning and distraction techniques.


  • The frequency of oral aspiration depends on the amount of secretions that accumulate in your child’s mouth. Verify the recommended frequency of aspiration with your healthcare team.
  • It is best to wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before aspirating secretions in order to prevent vomiting during the procedure.

Required materials:

The methods of care below are illustrated using a LSU suction device, a Yankauer® rigid stem catheter and/or a Little Sucker® type catheter.

Refer to your child’s healthcare team if the material or the sequence of steps you have been taught is different than those described here.

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