THE USE of an esophageal compression tube for treatment of bleeding esophageal varices was described in 1948 by Tocantins1 and in 1930 by Westphal (cited by Kaplan2). Since this time the successful use of esophageal tamponade has been repeatedly reported, and tube modifications have been described.3
Despite numerous and excellent reports on the successful use of these tubes as temporary emergency treatment for bleeding esophageal varices,4 few if any complications from the use of these tubes have been reported. It is the purpose of this report to describe the complications we have encountered and to suggest methods to avoid these complications.
The Sengstaken tube has been employed at Hines Veterans Administration Hospital both with and without traction. Traction as recommended by Sengstaken and Blakemore3b has been employed, as well as a local modification consisting of a long elastic fastened to the tube at the nares and to an adhesive strap