Suction Apparatus and Suction Machine

A suction apparatus and suction machine is commonly found in the emergency room, the operating room (OR) and clinical wards. To begin with, it extracts fluids such as saliva, vomit and spittle from unconscious patient. This is normal during surgical operation and air from the bronchial airways and postoperative drainage of sites. This is done through tubing and catheter into a suction bottle also known as  canister or reservoir.

The reservoir is normally made of glass or clear solid plastic with markings indicating volume.

Types of Suction Apparatus and Suction Machine

There exist different types of suction apparatus named according to area of application such as for pediatrics, O and G, and for general use. Similarly, some are electrically, vacuum and battery operated. Another category of suction machine are high or low pressure.

Low pressure suction machine is useful in gastrointestinal drainage such as bleeding in the stomach or intestines. The low pressure suction should drain the body fluid in a continuous manner without damaging the underlying soft tissues.

However, the most commonly among suction machine is the electric types. Good for different characterised accuracy and ease of use. This type is usually portable and last longer. Seen below fig. 1, is a portable battery operated suction machine with facilities for recharge of embedded batteries.

Different Components of Suction Apparatus

Components part of Suction MachineThe three important parts of a suction apparatus could classified as:

  • Source of Vacuum which is basically a vacuum pump;
  • The Reservoir which includes one or two suction bottles or canisters and
  • The Delivery Tubing which is a length of flexible plastic tubing which may include a nozzle or a catheter.

Equally important components which makes a suction pump complete are:

  • Bacterial Filter;
  • A Vacuum Gauge;
  • Vacuum Control Valve and
  • Vacuum Cut off Valve and
  • Moisture or Debris Trap.

The efficiency of a suction machine depends on the displacement or the volume of air the pump is able to move. This is usually expressed in liters per minute (l/min). Meanwhile, efficiency is also affected by negative pressure produced by the pump with particular regards to the time taken to achieve it.

A Typical Use of Suction Machine

Airway and Secretions: A tracheotomy is a surgery performed by doctors by inserting breathing tube within a patient’s windpipe. This surgery performed on adults and children and it involves placing a breathing tube below the larynx or voice box. Once this tube is in place, it allows a patient to remove mucus from the lungs and clear out blockages from the airway. As a result, suction machine perform this work so the patient does not have to try to remove this fluid on their own through coughing. [Source: ehow]

Suction Machine Block Diagram

The diagram above shows the components of a high pressure mobile suction apparatus. The difference in block between the low pressure suction and the high pressure suction machine as shown above is the method of producing the partial negative pressure.

The pump is protected from infected materials which could be drawn from the reservoir jar by a trap or filter. There is A Cut-Off Valve within the reservoir jar which operates when the level of fluid in the jar is sufficiently high enough to raise the float ‘F’ so as to prevent any foreign material being aspirated into the pump.

There are alternative positions for the pressure gauge. A trigger valve is fitted close to the nozzle in order maintain a constant standby vacuum in the reservoir jar. [Source: Anesthetic machine by C.S Ward]

Working Principles of Any Suction Unit/Machine

The suction machine is a means of producing a vacuum wherein air is completely sucked out of the canister or reservoir bottle (producing vacuum or negative pressure) hence sucking effects on any fluid the catheter or tubing come in contact with. The sucked air releases to the outside through a filter so as to prevent environmental pollution by sucked materials.

Care and Maintenance of Medical Suction Machine

Suction machine is essential medical equipment for hospital especially in the operating room (OR), emergency room (ER), intensive care unit (ICU) and some wards. This machine if not properly taken care of will serve as potential source of danger to innocent patient and complicate already worsen situation.

A medical suction machine helps remove fluids –vomit, and other secretions during or after surgery

I have seen in some hospitals where if a patient is conscious and know the kind of suction machine they will use for him/her will reject the use of such machine. This is because of the deplorable state of such machines dirty, rusted and unkempt. Thus a patient stands the risks of infections and cross infections by the use of such machine.

To properly care and maintain your suction machine, you need to pay attention to the following:

  • Cleaning of reservoir jar. The reservoir jar hosts suction fluids
  • Cleaning of catheter and delivery hose
  • Ensure integrity of floating stop valve
  • An in the same way minimize leakage current
Cleaning and Parts Replacement
  • The Reservoir or Suction Canister: you must clean the reservoir jar after use. For example, the direction for cleaning may differ by manufacturers because the canister made of different plastic materials or glass. In case of glass reservoir, you need to take precautions in cleaning because it is breakable and equally expensive
  • The Delivery Tubing: clean the catheter after each use by thorough rinsing with hot water and then by a diluted solution of one part to three parts hot water and air dry
  • The Catheter: catheter could be clean following manufacturers’ prescription but replacement is necessary more often
  • Bacterial filter: you must replace bacterial filter every two months or so depending on the amount of use the machine has or anytime the collection bottle overflows
  • Battery Replacement: for battery-powered, ensure the battery is in good charging condition

Common Faults with Suction Machines

  • Cut-off valve failure
  • Improper seal of the suction bottle
  • Soiled filter and


  • Leaky capacitor
  • Power Switch failure
  • Fuse blown or circuit breaker tripped off and
  • Blocked catheter
Troubleshooting A High Pressure Suction Machine 
  • User did not plug the machine
  • You forget to properly set suction pressure via the control switch/knob and
  • Low or no pressure at regulator port

In the same way,

  • No or low pressure at patient port
  • Low or no pressure at end of suction tubing and
  • The bottle cover is not properly in place or seal is missing.

However, if you tried all but does not solve the problem, you need to check The Suction Head. For your safety, you need to disinfect ‘properly’ a suction machine. And as a result, for instructions on how to disinfect a suction machine, check here.

Typical Suction Heads

Finally, there are different types of design of the suction head as illustrated below.

Check out for these:

  • Electrical Safety Test – Include MP3
  • Sources of Quality Suction Apparatus
  • Keeping Your Suction Machine Safe and Hygienic

How to Disassemble and Reassemble a Suction Machine – Show Video and Snapshot –






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