Evaluation of prehospital insertion of the laryngeal mask airway by primary care paramedics with only classroom mannequin training

Michael J Murray, Marian J Vermeulen, Laurie J Morrison, Tim Waite
CJEM 2002, 4 (5): 338-43

INTRODUCTION: The laryngeal mask airway (LMAtrade mark airway) provides adequate ventilation and offers a suitable alternative for airway management in patients with cardiac arrest if primary care paramedics do not have intubation skills or are unable to intubate. Training in the use of the LMA usually occurs in the operating room.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the use of the LMA by paramedics in prehospital adult non-traumatic cardiac arrest patients after classroom mannequin training. The study took place in a suburban rural emergency medical service.

METHODS: This is a 2-phase observational study of the effect of paramedic training for LMA insertion using a mannequin and the success rate in the prehospital setting. All paramedics successfully completed classroom mannequin training. All subsequent prehospital adult non-traumatic cardiac arrest patients from mid-February 1999 to Mar. 31, 2000, were eligible. Subjective assessment of chest expansion, ease of ventilation and auscultation defined adequacy of ventilation. Data collected included the number of insertion attempts, reasons for failure, ease of insertion, adverse events and reasons for not attempting intubation. Statistical analysis comprised descriptive frequencies, chi-squared tests for comparison of categorical variables and analysis of variance for continuous variables.

RESULTS: 208 paramedics (100%) successfully completed training. The mean number of attempts was 1, and only 4 (2.1%) paramedics required a second attempt with a mannequin. The paramedics' perception of ease of use comparing the LMA with a bag valve mask (BVM) was evenly distributed across the 3 descriptors: 70 (39%) scored the LMA as easier to use, 57 (31%) as more difficult, and 54 (30%) stated there would be no difference. Of the 291 arrests during the study period, insertion of the LMA was attempted in 283 (97.3%) and was successful in 199 (70%) patients. The LMA became dislodged in 5 (2.5%) cases and was removed in 12 (6%) to clear vomit from the airway. The overall success rate was 182 (64%). The incidence of regurgitation prior to attempted insertion of the LMA was 28% (79 patients). Success rates did not vary significantly with the incidence of vomiting prior to insertion (p = 0.11). The majority of the paramedics evaluated LMA insertion as Very easy 49/220 (22.3%) or Easy 87/220 (39.6%). Paramedic evaluation of ease of use varied with success (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: This study reports a 100% training success rate with a mannequin and a 64% success with LMA insertion and ventilation in the field by paramedics among adult out-of-hospital non-traumatic cardiac arrest patients.

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