[First experience with the laryngeal intubation mask]

H Langenstein, F Möller
Der Anaesthesist 1998, 47 (4): 311-9

OBJECTIVE: We report our initial experience with an improved model of the laryngeal mask airway, the intubating laryngeal mask airway (ILMA, commercial name Fastrach), which was designed by A.I.J. Brain to improve blind endotracheal intubation through a laryngeal mask.

METHODS: In the ILMA, a number of construction details were newly designed compared to a standard laryngeal mask airway (SLM): 1) the angle between the shaft and the mask plane is changed, and also the radius of the shaft, 2) the internal diameter of the shaft is increased to allow the passage of an 8.0 mm cuffed endotracheal tube, resulting in an outer diameter of 2.0 cm, 3) a stable rubber lip (epiglottic elevating bar) is incorporated instead of the gills to clear the epiglottis out of the lumen during the passage of the endotracheal tube, 4) the shaft is manufactured out of stainless steel covered by silicone with a handle attached for more precise guidance. We prospectively used the ILMA in 80 patients for blind intubation. 51 had normal anatomy (group I), 19 were difficult to intubate (Cormack grade 3-4; group II), 18 had a reduced mouth opening (< or = 2.5 cm awake; group III), 8 of them also were difficult to intubate.

RESULTS: Insertion of the ILMA and ventilation was possible in all patients but one with a mouth opening of 1.3 cm during anaesthesia. 4 patients with difficult intubation and one with normal anatomy could not be ventilated with a face mask but could be ventilated with the ILMA. Blind intubation was successful in 69 out of 80 patients (global success rate 87%; group I: 84%; II: 95%; III: 83%), in 38 during the first attempt (initial success rate 48%; group I: 45%; II: 63%; III: 44%), showing no difference for patients with normal anatomy, difficult intubation or reduced mouth opening. For 82 successful intubations, 157 intubation attempts were performed (success rate per attempt 52%; group I: 48%; II: 67%; III: 54%). Success rate per attempt decreased to 42%, if intubation was not successful during the first attempt (106 intubation attempts resulting in 44 successful intubations, including 31 intubation attempts for 11 failures; group I: 35%; II: 56%; III: 38%). Intubation through the ILMA was not possible in 11 patients (14%). Failures to intubate were caused by a reduced mouth opening in 1 patient, an unsuited endotracheal tube in 1 patient, a wrong size of the ILMA may have been the cause in 6 patients, in the remaining 3, lacking personal skill may have been responsible. Endotracheal tubes suited to be used with the ILMA are straight or preformed Woodbridge tubes, whereas standard plastic tubes are too stiff. Manouvres facilitating blind intubation though the ILMA were careful alignment of the ILMA with the handle, an up and down manouvre, rotation of the tube or head movements.

CONCLUSION: The ILMA improved ventilation compared to a face mask and almost doubled the success rate of blind intubation compared to a SLM in our hands in a variety of intubation situations. The ILMA has the potential to be useful in difficult to intubate patients--except those with cervical pathology--or in emergency medicine. Handling can be trained during every day routine. Experienced judgement of definite endotracheal tube placement is mandatory.

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