The aim of this study was to investigate cuff pressure changes found in disposable size 3 laryngeal mask airways (LMAs) from different manufacturers during nitrous oxide exposure and to compare the results with the re-usable Classic LMA. In an in vitro experiment, laryngeal mask airway cuff pressures starting from a baseline pressure of 40 cm H(2)O were recorded using a pressure transducer for 60 min with the laryngeal mask airway cuff exposed to 66% N(2)O in oxygen. Cuff pressure increases within 5 min of nitrous oxide exposure were > 250% in the Classic LMA and were not significantly different from those found in the Marshall laryngeal mask airway. However, they were significantly greater than those in the Soft Seal, the Unique, the AMBU, and Intersurgical laryngeal mask airways, all of which demonstrated stable cuff pressure levels within the first 5 min. The cuff pressure increase following 60 min of nitrous oxide exposure was 13.0 +/- 1.1 and 14.6 +/- 0.7 cm H(2)O in the Intersurgical and Unique laryngeal mask airways, respectively, which was significantly lower than the cuff pressure increase in the Soft Seal and in the Ambu laryngeal mask airways (28.3 +/- 2.9 and 30.9 +/- 1.2 cm H(2)O, respectively). Unlike the re-usable Classic LMA and the disposable Marshall laryngeal mask airway, which have silicone cuffs, the disposable Ambu, Intersurgical, Portex Soft Seal and Unique laryngeal mask airways have cuffs constructed from PVC, which seems to be less susceptible to hyperinflation caused by nitrous oxide diffusion.