Journal of Applied Physiology

Determination of esophageal probe insertion length based on standing and sitting height

I. B. Mekjavic, M. E. Rempel


The present study derives simple formulas for the prediction of optimal insertion length of an esophageal temperature-sensitive probe from the measurements of either standing or sitting height. The formulas assume that the optimal site for an esophageal temperature probe is in the region of the esophagus bounded by the left ventricle and aorta, corresponding to the level of the eighth and ninth thoracic vertebrae (T8 and T9, respectively). An esophageal probe was constructed of polyethylene tubing containing 1-cm segments of alternating radiopaque and nonradiopaque tubing in the distal 20 cm of the probe. The probe was inserted through a nostril into the esophagus of 20 subjects (12 males and 8 females) of various heights (range 163-194.6 cm) and weights (range 52.2-100.8 kg), and lateral chest radiograms were obtained for determination of the insertion length of the probe (L) required to situate the probe in the retrocardiac esophagus. Analysis of the radiograms demonstrated that, at the level of the intervertebral disc between T8 and T9, the probe was below the tracheal bifurcation and close to the left ventricle. The distance from the nasal flare to this level showed a good correlation with the subject's stretched stature (r2 = 0.71) and sitting height (r2 = 0.86). The following equations were derived to predict the placement of the esophageal probe at the T8/T9 level based on standing height: L (CM) = 0.228 x (standing height) - 0.194, and sitting height: L (cm) = 0.479 x (sitting height) - 4.44.