Sengstaken–Blakemore and Minnesota Tubes


Sengstaken–Blakemore tube (3 lumen) replaced by Minnesota tube (4 lumen) as allows aspiration of both gastric and oesophageal contents, not just gastric contents


  • tamponade of gastro-oesophageal bleeding that is unresponsive to medical and endoscopic treatment (~90% effective)


Sengstaken-Blakemore tube (has ports for gastric and esophageal balloons and a gastric aspiration port)

sengstaken-blakemore tube

Minnesota tube (has an esophageal aspiration port in addition to the gastric aspiration port)



  • patient is often endotracheally intubated first
  • local anaesthetic jelly to nostril
  • supine with 45 degrees head up
  • estimate length by bridge of nose to xiphoid process
  • check both balloons for leaks
  • evaluate compliance curve of gastric balloon pre-insertion by inflating the  balloon with incremental 100ml aliquots of air to maximal recommended volume (usually 250 -300ml for SBT, 450-500ml for Minnesota) and note the corresponding balloon pressure at each step
  • lubricate balloons
  • insert via mouth via laryngoscopy into the oesophagus
  • confirm position on CXR (gastric balloon in stomach)
  • inflate gastric balloon using 50mL increments up to 250 -300ml for SBT or 450-500ml for Minnesota tube
    • If, post-insertion, balloon pressure on inflation with a given volume is >15 mmHg than the pre-insertion pressure, the balloon may be in the oesophagus and should  be deflated and position checked
    • pull balloon back until against gastric fundus
    • note measurement at lips and fix securely with traction and rope pulley system with 500mL bag of fluid
  • inflation of oesophageal balloon usually is not required (if required inflate to 40mmHg)
    • never use on its own
    • use only if continuing bleeding despite an adequately inflated gastric balloon correctly placed and with appropriate tension


  • avoid inflation of gastric balloon in oesophagus as this is almost always fatal!
  • CXR prior to balloon inflation and after inflation or fluoroscopic insertion


  • haemorrhage (note that re-bleeding on balloon deflation occurs in ~50% of cases)
    (check position, ensure balloon inflated, correct coagulopathy)
  • painful or uncomfortable
    (check position; provide sedation and analgesia)
  • aspiration
    (use only in intubated patient and position patient head-up 30-45 degrees)
  • pressure necrosis
    (do not leave SBT in situ for more than 24-36 h, avoid prolonged inflation of gastric balloon – deflate after 12 hr and reinflate if ongoing bleeding)
  • oesophageal perforation
    (ensure both balloons completely deflated prior to insertion, avoid inflation of oesophageal balloon, and ensure gastric balloon is correctly positioned during inflation)
  • acute upper airway obstruction due to balloon migration
    (avoid use in unintubated patient — if SBT in unintubated patient and develops  respiratory distress, immediately cut lumens for oesophageal and gastric balloons  and remove tube)
  • cardiac arrhythmias
    (check position; correct electrolytes; cardioversion)


SMACC EVO winner from Hennepin County Medical Center:

References and Links

FOAM and web resources

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