Comparison of wire-guided cricothyrotomy versus standard surgical cricothyrotomy technique

J Emerg Med. Nov-Dec 1999;17(6):957-62. doi: 10.1016/s0736-4679(99)00123-7.


We compared a wire-guided cricothyrotomy technique vs. standard surgical cricothyrotomy in terms of accuracy in placement, complications, performance time, incision length, and user preference. We conducted a randomized, crossover controlled trial in which Emergency Medicine (EM) attendings and residents performed cricothyrotomies by both standard and wire-guided techniques (using a commercially available kit) on human cadavers after a 15-min training session. Procedure time, incision length, and physician preference were recorded. Cadavers were inspected for accuracy of placement and complications. Airway placement was accurate in 13 of 15 cases for the standard technique (86.7%), and 14 of 15 cases for the wire-guided technique (93.3%). When comparing wire-guided vs. standard techniques, there were no differences in complication rates or performance times. The wire-guided technique resulted in a significantly smaller mean incision length than the standard technique (0.53 vs. 2.53 cm, respectively, p<0.0001). Overall, 14 of 15 physicians stated that they preferred the wire-guided to the standard technique. Our data suggest that this wire-guided cricothyrotomy technique is as accurate and timely to use as the standard technique and is preferred by our physician operators. In addition, the technique results in a smaller incision on human cadaver models.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cadaver
  • Cricoid Cartilage / surgery*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Time Factors