Introduction: Pesky Twisted Nose Cannula

My one-year-old granddaughter was a micropreemie, weighing less than a pound at birth. Although she has several health issues, this does not preclude her from being very active, which in turn causes her nose cannula to twist. Since Mom and Dad can change her cannula only every two weeks, it can get really twisted, causing kinks that diminish or cut off her air supply. It upsets me that this happens and so I've been trying to research everything I can to find a solution for her. There just doesn't seem to be anything that will work for her. Sometimes the cannulas/tubing are more pliable one week than they are the next. It's just nothing we can specifically pin down. The following steps are what I've come up with and it seems to be working so far. I guess time is the true test. I hope it works for somebody else, too.

You can buy swivel connectors for oxygen tubing but I've not found any kind of nose cannula with a swivel connector at the Y junction, which I think would be optimum, keeping the headset stable but allowing the main tubing to swivel. And it's more difficult to find something better for pediatric nose cannulas. I've also read some bad reviews about swivel connectors, that they can leak. It's very frustrating and concerning knowing your loved one's breathing may be impaired because of all the twisting that's going on with this apparatus.


Nose cannula

Hair dryer

Athletic tape


Step 1: Straightening the Tubing

NOTE: The cannula used for this instructable happens to be for an adult, which the medical supply company delivered by mistake, but the cannuals are tightly looped and secured by a paper band, stiff and "curly." My first step is to make the tubing pliable and as straight as I can get it. I hang it over a door, gently pulling on it while heating it with the air dryer. Do not do this too closely to the tubing or run it over the same place for too long, which could damage the tubing.

Step 2: Critical Components

The first picture is of the sliding bolo. This component slides to allow you to secure the tubing close to the head. The second picture is that of the Y junction or Y connector. It shows the two headset tubes (lanyards) that merge into the main long tubing that is connected to the oxygen source.

Step 3: Wraping the Headset Tubes

Athletic tape works best for me. You may find something much better.

The second picture shows the Y junction on the left and the sliding bolo on the right. It is the area between the two that this instructable addresses.

Before wrapping, put the nose cannula on the person who will be wearing it and slide the bolo toward the head but allow enough room that the bolo can to be slid back for removal of the headset from the head.

To start, cut 2 pieces of tape, each about 3 inches long. Starting closest to the sliding bolo, separate the two pieces of tubing with your fingers. Using one piece of tape, securely attach it to the inside of one of the tubes. Wrap it around the tube to which it is secured and pick up the second tube on the way back (see Images 3 and 4). Lay it down on a surface, holding the tubes together tightly and continue to wrap both tubes together. As close as you can, tape the other piece of tape to the second tube and wrap in the opposite direction of what you just did, using the previous instruction for the first tube. The method seems to keep the two tubes pulling in opposite directions, thus keeping it from twisting.

Continue this procedure all the way down to the Y junction. I happen to skip about a 1/4 inch between the tapings but it might work better for you to keep all the tapings right next to each other. When you get down to the Y junction, tape the tubes to the Y junction (see Images 6 and 7).

Step 4: More Photos

These are just more photos that may be helpful.