Objectives: Over half of general anesthetics in the UK involve supraglottic airway devices (SADs). The National Audit Project 4 undertaken by the Royal College of Anaesthetists demonstrated that aspiration was the most frequent complication relating to SAD use. SADs designed to reduce this risk (second-generation devices) are increasingly recommended in both adults and children. As well as routine use, SADs are recommended for use in cases of 'difficult airway'. This survey assessed current usage of SADs in routine practice and difficult airways. Sixteen questions, approved by the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (APAGBI) survey committee, were distributed to all its members.
Results: Two hundred and forty-four members responded. Eighty-eight percent preferentially use first-generation rather than second-generation devices. The most important design feature was the availability of a complete range of sizes (84%). Seventy-seven percent felt that randomized controlled trials assessing SAD safety in children are needed. In cases of failed intubation, classically shaped SADs are preferred (79%). Three percent of responders intubate via an SAD routinely. Eighteen percent have employed this technique in an emergency. Thirty-six percent of responders have found an SAD to function poorly.
Conclusion: Pediatric anesthesiologists appear slow to embrace second-generation SADs. The role of SADs in the management of difficult airways is widely accepted. Research currently has little influence over the choice of which SAD to use, which is more likely determined by personal choice and departmental preference. There is a risk that some SADs are unsafe.
Keywords: airway; child; devices; difficult; techniques.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.