• Users Online: 1972
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents    
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 58  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 778-779  

Another circuit block: This time the actual Bain circuit

Department of Anaesthesiology, Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication17-Dec-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. C N Jaideep
Department of Anaesthesiology, Seven Hills Hospital, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai - 400059, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.147184

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Jaideep C N. Another circuit block: This time the actual Bain circuit. Indian J Anaesth 2014;58:778-9

How to cite this URL:
Jaideep C N. Another circuit block: This time the actual Bain circuit. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Oct 21];58:778-9. Available from: https://www.ijaweb.org/text.asp?2014/58/6/778/147184


The Bain Circuit is still popular in theatres with basic anaesthesia machines and for transport of intubated patients. If used to transport critically ill patients, it is possible that secretions, blood etc., may soil the elbow connector or the patient end of the circuit. Such soiled circuits may then be manually cleaned, re-sterilized by ethylene oxide (ETO) where facilities exist, or activated glutaraldehyde in places without ETO facility.

This is an incident where faulty cleaning of a Bain Circuit resulted in an unusual blockage of the circuit that was diagnosed just before it was used to transport a post operative patient.

A 54 year old male, a known hypertensive with coronary artery disease and severe anaemia underwent abdomino-perineal resection for carcinoma rectum. The Anaesthetic technique used was continuous epidural plus general anaesthesia with invasive monitoring. The patient required haemodynamic support intraoperatively, but the surgery was otherwise uneventful and the patient was prepared for shifting to the Intensive Care Unit for elective ventilation on completion of the procedure, as per hospital protocol.

The oxygen cylinder on the transfer trolley was confirmed to be full and the Bain Circuit was connected to the outlet of the Wolfe bottle. When the flowmeter was opened, the Wolfe bottle connections loosened with an explosive noise and the bottle disconnected from the screw cap, despite the Bain circuit being open at the patient end. The Bain Circuit was noticed to have water in the inspiratory limb.

A different oxygen cylinder was connected with similar results. The entire system was then systematically checked for over-pressure, starting from the oxygen cylinder. The cylinder, Wolfe bottle and connections were found to be intact.

The Bain circuit was then examined and was found to be blocked at the distal end of the inspiratory limb by a tightly wedged cotton plug, similar to the plug found at the end of the commonly available ear-bud [Figure 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Cotton plug wedged tightly in the patient end of inspiratory limb

Click here to view
Figure 2: Close up of plug in distal end of inspiratory limb

Click here to view

The circuit was changed and the transfer accomplished uneventfully. Since the patient remained on the anaesthesia ventilator during the events, he remained safe.

In this incident, a staffer had probably attempted to clean secretions from inside the Bain Circuit after removing the elbow connector using a cotton bud. The cotton plug got dislodged inside the patient end of the inspiratory limb and was stuck there, as seen in the pictures. The sudden pressure from the oxygen cylinder then wedged the plug more firmly and blocked oxygen flow (probably a good thing; the plug could have been blown into the patient).

The commonest areas that get blocked in a circuit are the narrow portions at insertion of male-female connectors and valves. Foreign bodies reported include various types of plastic caps, bungs, small rubber pieces, adhesive plaster, inspissated secretions and three-way connector blockers. [1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

The AAGBI's "Protecting the Breathing Circuit in Anaesthesia" and the American Society of Anesthesiologists' Closed Claims Project on "Equipment Problems as Damaging Events" are landmark publications including airway equipment related incidents such as disconnections and manufacturing defects apart from a large number of human error related events. [5],[6]

The Bain circuit has been implicated in hypercarbia secondary to disconnection of the inspiratory limb at the machine end of the circuit. [7] However, the author was unable to find a reference to incidents involving blockage of the actual Bain breathing circuit. A report suggesting a faulty Bain Circuit actually refers to the elbow connector between the patient end of the circuit and the endotracheal tube and not the circuit itself. [8] More care needs to be exercised in handling airway equipment and training of personnel in critical equipment usage and maintenance.

   References Top

Tose R, Kubota T, Hirota K, Sakai T, Ishihara H, Matsuki A. Obstruction of an reinforced endotracheal tube due to dissection of internal tube wall during total intravenous anesthesia. Masui 2003; 52:1218-20.  Back to cited text no. 1
Foreman MJ, Moyes DG. Anaesthetic Breathing Circuit Obstruction due to blockage of tracheal tube connector by a foreign body - Two cases. Anaesth Intensive Care 1999;27:73-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Thomas R. A blocked catheter mount. Anaesthesia 2001;56:188-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Iyer GA, Davies M. Another cause of an obstructed breathing system. Anaesthesia 2006;61:201-2  Back to cited text no. 4
Department of Health, United Kingdom. Protecting the breathing circuit in anaesthesia-Report to the Chief Medical Officer of an Expert Group on blocked anaesthetic tubing. May 10, 2004 available from: http://www.dh.gov.uk/ PublicationsAndStatistics/Publications/. [Last accessed on 2014 Jun 18].  Back to cited text no. 5
Mehta SP, Eisenkraft JB, Posner KL, Domino KB. Patient injury from anesthesia gas delivery equipment: A closed claims update. Anesthesiology 2013;119:778-95.  Back to cited text no. 6
Singh I, Gupta M, and Singh TK. Hypercapnia resulting from a faulty co-axial (Bain) circuit. Indian J Anaesth 2011;55:402-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Uncles DR, Parke TJ. Don′t let the Bain take the blame. Can J Anaesth 1994;41:1015.  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded248    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal