THE DEVELOPMENT of an inflatable cuff on the endotracheal tube has been a major advance in the practice of anesthesiology. It has meant positive control of ventilation. It has permitted the safe use of muscle relaxant drugs. If a patient is administered a relative overdosage and apnea occurs, the anesthesiologist may simply manually or mechanically ventilate until spontaneous respiration occurs. The inflated cuff on the endotrachael tube prevents aspiration of stomach contents, saliva, and blood into the bronchial tree. Control of the semiclosed anesthesia system by use of a cuffed tube allows a smooth, even, and light level of inhalation anesthesia. Most importantly, the cuffed tube enables periodic hyperinflation of the lungs, thus minimizing atelectasis during anesthesia.
Historically, Frederick Trendlenburg was the first to use an endotracheal tube in man (1869). He passed a wide bore tube via preliminary tracheotomy for an operation on the upper air passages, using chloroform