Impact of an Extraglottic Device on Pediatric Airway Management in an Urban Prehospital System

West J Emerg Med. 2019 Oct 21;20(6):962-969. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2019.8.44464.


Introduction: Prehospital pediatric endotracheal intubation has lower first-pass success rates compared to adult intubations and in general may not offer a survival benefit. Increasingly, emergency medical services (EMS) systems are deploying prehospital extraglottic airways (EGA) for primary pediatric airway management, yet little is known about their efficacy. We evaluated the impact of a pediatric prehospital airway management protocol change, inclusive of EGAs, on airway management and patient outcomes in children in cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.

Methods: Using data from a large, metropolitan, fire-based EMS service, we performed an observational study of pediatric patients with respiratory failure or cardiac arrest who were transported by EMS before and after implementation of an evidence-based airway management protocol inclusive of the addition of the EGA. The primary outcome was change in frequency of intubation attempts when paired with an initial EGA. Secondary outcomes included EGA and intubation success rates and patient survival to hospitalization and discharge.

Results: We included 265 patients age <16 years old, with 142 pre- and 123 post-protocol change. Patient demographics and event characteristics were similar between groups. Intubation attempts declined from 79.6% pre- to 44.7% (p<0.01) post-protocol change. In patients with an intubation attempt, overall intubation success declined from 81.4% to 63.6% (p<0.01). Post-protocol change, an EGA was attempted in 52.8% of patients with 95.4% success.

Conclusion: Implementation of an evidenced-based airway management algorithm for pediatric patients, inclusive of an EGA device for all age groups, was associated with fewer prehospital intubations. Intubation success may be negatively impacted due to decreases in procedural frequency.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management / instrumentation*
  • Airway Management / methods
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Male
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Urban Population