Study Objective: Laryngeal mask airways (LMAs) are often used as airway rescue devices where laryngoscopy is difficult. The LMA does not protect the airway and is preferably replaced with a cuffed endotracheal tube. There are reports of cases where an Eschmann tracheal tube introducer (ETTI) was successfully used to bridge between a standard LMA and an endotracheal tube. This project was designed to determine whether an Eschmann stylet can reliably be passed through an LMA into the trachea as a means of rescue intubation.
Methods: Nineteen emergency medicine residents and attending physicians, who were participants in a cadaveric airway course, placed and inflated a size 4 LMA (The Laryngeal Mask Company Ltd., San Diego, CA) on each of six unembalmed human cadavers in the usual fashion. They then attempted to pass a lubricated, 15 Fr, reusable, coude-tipped ETTI (Portex, Smiths Medical, Keene, NH)) through the airspace/handle of the inflated LMA. The LMA was then deflated and removed while the ETTI was held in place. Investigators then determined the location of the ETTI by laryngoscopy.
Results: Of 114 attempts at the rescue procedure, 59 resulted in placement of the bougie into the trachea, yielding an overall success rate of 52% (95% CI 48%-56%). There were no significant differences in performance based on level of training of residents or years of experience of attending physicians.
Conclusions: While not a primary difficult airway option, the use of a ETTI as a bridge device between LMA and endotracheal tube was successful about 50% of the time. [West J Emerg Med. 2010;11:16-19.]