Cricothyrotomy technique using gum elastic bougie is faster than standard technique: a study of emergency medicine residents and medical students in an animal lab

Acad Emerg Med. 2010 Jun;17(6):666-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00753.x. Epub 2010 May 14.


Objectives: The objective was to compare time to completion, failure rate, and subjective difficulty of a new cricothyrotomy technique to the standard technique. The new bougie-assisted cricothyrotomy technique (BACT) is similar to the rapid four-step technique (RFST), but a bougie and endotracheal tube are inserted rather than a Shiley tracheostomy tube.

Methods: This was a randomized controlled trail conducted on domestic sheep. During a 3-month period inexperienced residents or students were randomized to perform cricothyrotomy on anesthetized sheep using either the standard technique or the BACT. Operators were trained with an educational video before the procedure. Time to successful cricothyrotomy was recorded. The resident or student was then asked to rate the difficulty of the procedure on a five-point scale from 1 (very easy) to 5 (very difficult).

Results: Twenty-one residents and students were included in the study: 11 in the standard group and 10 in the BACT group. Compared to the standard technique, the BACT was significantly faster with a median time of 67 seconds (interquartile range [IQR] = 55-82) versus 149 seconds (IQR = 111-201) for the standard technique (p = 0.002). The BACT was also rated easier to perform (median = 2, IQR = 1-3) than the standard technique (median = 3, IQR = 2-4; p = 0.04). The failure rate was 1/10 for the BACT compared to 3/11 for the standard method (p = NS).

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the BACT is faster than the standard technique and has a similar failure rate when performed by inexperienced providers on anesthetized sheep.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Competence
  • Cricoid Cartilage / surgery*
  • Curriculum
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Models, Animal
  • Sheep
  • Students, Medical
  • Thyroid Cartilage / surgery*
  • Tracheostomy
  • Tracheotomy / methods*