In a series of 100 patients with carcinoma of the oesophagus or cardia undergoing palliative intubation at endoscopy using a latex rubber or a silicone rubber tube 2 cases of tube fragmentation were encountered and are described. The effects of hydrochloric acid, bile and irradiation on the tubes have been studied in vitro. After incubation in hydrochloric acid (0·1 mol/l), the breaking force of latex rubber tubes fell by 31 per cent (48 N) but did not change significantly for silicone rubber tubes. The addition of bile to the hydrochloric acid (0·1 mol/l) did not further influence the breaking force of either type of tube. Megavoltage irradiation with 7500 rad did not affect the breaking strength of silicone rubber tubes but caused a reduction of breaking strength of latex rubber tubes. These findings suggest that silicone rubber has advantages over latex rubber as a material for prosthetic oesophageal tubes.
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