The laryngeal tube device: a simple and timely adjunct to airway management

Christopher S Russi, Cari L Wilcox, Hans R House
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2007, 25 (3): 263-7

INTRODUCTION: Endotracheal intubation (ETI) is a motor skill that demands practice. Emergency medical service providers with limited intubation experience should consider using airway adjuncts other than ETI for respiratory compromise. Prehospital ETI has been recently interrogated by evidence exposing worsened patient outcomes. The laryngeal tube (LT) airway was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2003 for use in the United States. Using difficult airway-simulated models, we sought to describe the time difference between placing the ETI and LT and the successful placement of each adjunct in varied levels of healthcare providers.

METHODS: Emergency medicine resident physicians, fourth year medical students, and paramedic students were asked to use both ETI and the LT. Subjects were timed (seconds) on ETI and LT placement on 2 different simulators (AirMan and SimMan; Laerdal Co, Wappingers Falls, NY). After ETI was complete, they were given 30 seconds to review an instructional card before placement of the LT. We measured placement time and successful placement of the device for ETI vs LT. Successful placement in the manikin was defined by a combination of breath sounds, chest rise, and absence of epigastric sounds.

RESULTS: Overall mean placement time in the AirMan and SimMan for ETI was 76.4 (95% confidence interval [CI], 63.3-89.5) and 45.9 (95% CI, 41.0-50.2) seconds, respectively. Mean placement time for the LT in the AirMan and SimMan was 26.9 (95% CI, 24.3-29.5) and 20.3 (95% CI, 18.1-22.5) seconds, respectively. The time difference between ETI and LT for both simulators was significant (P < .0001). Successful placement of the LT compared with ETI in the AirMan was significant (P = .001).

CONCLUSIONS: A significant time difference and simplicity exists in placing the LT, making it an attractive device for expeditious airway management. Further studies will need to validate the LT effectiveness in ventilation and oxygenation; however, its uncomplicated design allows for successful use by a variety of healthcare providers.

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