Introduction: Pediatric endotracheal intubation (ETI) is difficult and can have serious adverse events when performed by paramedics in the prehospital setting. Paramedics may use the King Laryngeal Tube airway (KLT) in difficult adult airways, but only limited data describe their application in pediatric patients.
Objective: To compare paramedic airway insertion speed and complications between KLT and ETI in a simulated model of pediatric respiratory arrest.
Methods: This prospective, randomized trial included paramedics and senior paramedic students with limited prior KLT experience. We provided brief training on pediatric KLT insertion. Using a random allocation protocol, participants performed both ETI and KLT on a pediatric mannequin (6-month old size) in simulated respiratory arrest. The primary outcomes were 1) elapsed time to successful airway placement (seconds), and 2) proper airway positioning. We compared airway insertion performance between KLT and ETI using the Wilcoxon signed-ranks test. Subjects also indicated their preferred airway device.
Results: The 25 subjects included 19 paramedics and 6 senior paramedic students. Two subjects had prior adult KLT experience. Airway insertion time was not statistically different between the KLT (median 27 secs) and ETI (median 31 secs) (p = 0.08). Esophageal intubation occurred in 2 of 25 (8%) ETI. Airway leak occurred in 3 of 25 (12%) KLT, but ventilation remained satisfactory. Eighty-four percent of the subjects preferred the KLT over ETI.
Conclusions: Paramedics and paramedic students demonstrated similar airway insertion performance between KLT and ETI in simulated, pediatric respiratory arrest. Most subjects preferred KLT. KLT may provide a viable alternative to ETI in prehospital pediatric airway management.