Background: A correctly performed cricothyroidotomy may be lifesaving in a cannot-ventilate, cannot-intubate situation. However, many practicing anesthesiologists do not have experience with cricothyroidotomy. The purpose of this study was to determine the minimum training required to perform cricothyroidotomy in 40 s or less in mannequins.
Methods: After informed consent, participants were shown a demonstration video and asked to perform 10 consecutive cricothyroidotomy procedures on a mannequin using a preassembled percutaneous dilational cricothyroidotomy set. Each attempt was timed from skin palpation to lung insufflation. Cricothyroidotomy was considered successful if it was performed in 40 s or less, and the cricothyroidotomy time was considered to have plateaued when there were no significant reductions in cricothyroidotomy times in three consecutive attempts.
Results: One hundred two anesthesiologists participated in the study. There was a significant reduction of cricothyroidotomy times over the 10 attempts (P < 0.0001) and between three consecutive attempts until the fourth attempt (P < 0.03). The cricothyroidotomy times plateaued by the fourth attempt, while the success rate plateaued at the fifth attempt (94, 96, 96, and 96% at the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh attempts, respectively).
Conclusion: Practice on mannequins leads to reductions in cricothyroidotomy times and improvement in success rates. By the fifth attempt, 96% of participants were able to successfully perform the cricothyroidotomy in 40 s or less. While clinical correlates are not known, the authors recommend that providers of emergency airway management be trained on mannequins for at least five attempts or until their cricothyroidotomy time is 40 s or less. The most appropriate retraining intervals have yet to be determined for optimal cricothyroidotomy skill retention.