Comparison of the intubating laryngeal mask airway with the fiberoptic intubation in anticipated difficult airway management

O Langeron, F Semjen, J L Bourgain, A Marsac, A M Cros
Anesthesiology 2001, 94 (6): 968-72

BACKGROUND: The intubating laryngeal mask airway (ILMA; Fastrach; Laryngeal Mask Company, Henley-on-Thames, UK) may provide an alternative technique to fiberoptic intubation (FIB) to facilitate the management of the anticipated difficult airway. The authors therefore compared the effectiveness of the ILMA with FIB in patients with anticipated difficult intubation.

METHODS: One hundred patients, with at least one difficult intubation criteria (Mallampati class III or IV, thyromental distance < 65 mm, interincisor distance < 35 mm) were enrolled (FIB group, n = 49; ILMA group, n = 51) in this prospective randomized study. Anesthesia was induced with propofol and maintained with alfentanil and propofol after an efficient mask ventilation has been demonstrated. The success of the technique (within three attempts), the number of attempts, duration of the successful attempt, and adverse events (oxygen saturation < 90%, bleeding) were recorded.

RESULTS: The rate of successful tracheal intubation with ILMA was 94% and comparable with FIB (92%). The number of attempts and the time to succeed were not significantly different between groups. In case of failure of the first technique, the alternative technique always succeeded. Failures in FIB group were related to oxygen desaturation (oxygen saturation < 90%) and bleeding, and to previous cervical radiotherapy in the ILMA group. Adverse events occurred significantly more frequently in FIB group than in ILMA group (18 vs. 0%, P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The authors obtained a high success rate and comparable duration of tracheal intubation with ILMA and FIB techniques. In patients with previous cervical radiotherapy, the use of ILMA cannot be recommended. Nevertheless, the use of the ILMA was associated with fewer adverse events.

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