The King LT versus the Combitube: flight crew performance and preference

Elizabeth A Tumpach, Michael Lutes, Dennis Ford, E Brooke Lerner
Prehospital Emergency Care 2009, 13 (3): 324-8

INTRODUCTION: Air medical personnel frequently face the challenge of the emergency airway. The Combitube is an airway device commonly used by emergency medical services (EMS) providers as either a primary or rescue airway.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate the performance and preference of air medical personnel using a newer laryngeal tube airway device, the King LT, versus the Combitube in a simulator model.

METHODS: Participants included flight physicians, nurses, and paramedics in our air medical transport program. Twenty-seven subjects participated. Participants received a 10-minute instructional program, and then had individual practice with each device. Participants were tested on the insertion of each device in a Laerdal SimMan. Rates of successful placement, time to successful placement, and practitioner preference were recorded. Perceived ease of insertion was measured on a five-point scale (1 = easy, 5 = difficult).

RESULTS: All 27 participants correctly placed each device. Mean time to placement was 24.4 seconds (standard deviation [SD] of 4.7 seconds) for the King LT and 37.9 seconds (SD of 5.9 seconds) for the Combitube. The difference in mean times was 13.5 seconds (p < 0.0001). For the participants' perceived ease of insertion, the mean score for the King LT was 1.3 and that for the Combitube was 2.5. Twenty-six of 27 participants preferred the King LT over the Combitube.

CONCLUSIONS: The King LT was placed significantly faster than the Combitube and was also perceived as easier to place. Ninety-six percent of the participants preferred the King LT. Limitations include using a simulator model rather than a human model.

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