Creation of a head and face protection device for children undergoing procedures in prone position

Paediatr Anaesth. 2009 Jun;19(6):587-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2009.03008.x.


Background: Positioning the head of patients undergoing procedures in lateral or prone position remains a difficult task for the anesthesiologists. Associated risks have attracted increasing attention because they range from minor facial soft tissue injuries to catastrophic complications such as stroke or postoperative blindness. Earlier, we reported on the use of a boxing sports helmet for simple and easy positioning of the head. However, as available helmets are limited in sizes and materials, that system is not easily transferable to children. Therefore, we sought to create a face and head protection device for children undergoing procedures in prone position.

Methods/materials: We re-engineered a standard boxing sports helmet making it suitable as an on-head support cushion. By using WHO standard growth charts, various sizes were calculated and prototypes of different foam materials produced. Facial surface pressures were measured in 15 volunteers.

Results: A lightweight foam-based face mask was created. Minimum necessary foam thickness was 2.5 cm. Different materials were tested and pressure in different facial zones never exceeded 30 mmHg.

Conclusion: Bringing a face protection device onto the patient's face instead of placing the face into support cushions is an elegant way of keeping control over airway devices and providing support for facial structures in various positions simultaneously. Skin surface pressure on facial structures remained low due to the specific mask design and choice of foam materials, which could lead to decreased incidences of undesired sequelae of prone position such as skin damage or even more devastating complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child, Preschool
  • Equipment Design
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Head*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Masks
  • Pressure / adverse effects
  • Prone Position