Supraglottic airways in difficult airway management: successes, failures, use and misuse

Anaesthesia. 2011 Dec:66 Suppl 2:45-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2011.06934.x.


Supraglottic airway devices (SAD) play an important role in the management of patients with difficult airways. Unlike other alternatives to standard tracheal intubation, e.g. videolaryngoscopy or intubation stylets, they enable ventilation even in patients with difficult facemask ventilation and simultaneous use as a conduit for tracheal intubation. Insertion is usually atraumatic, their use is familiar from elective anaesthesia, and compared with tracheal intubation is easier to learn for users with limited experienced in airway management. Use of SADs during difficult airway management is widely recommended in many guidelines for the operating room and in the pre-hospital setting. Despite numerous studies comparing different SADs in manikins, there are few randomised controlled trials comparing different SADs in patients with difficult airways. Therefore, most safety data come from extended use rather than high quality evidence and claims of efficacy and particularly safety must be interpreted cautiously.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management / methods*
  • Anesthesiology / education
  • Clinical Competence
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Glottis / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Masks
  • Manikins
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome