Background: Emergency front of neck access (eFONA) is a critical step in oxygenation in cases of unrelieved airway obstruction. Multiple techniques are used in clinical practice without agreement regarding the optimal approach. We evaluated a novel device, the Cric-Guide (CG), a channelled bougie introducer that enters the airway in a single action and compared it with a scalpel-bougie-tube (SBT) technique in laboratory benchtop model.
Methods: Seven anaesthesiologists attempted eFONA on both obese and non-obese models using both techniques in randomized order on an excised porcine trachea with an intact larynx with variable subcutaneous tissue depth. The primary outcome was successful tracheal cannulation. Secondary outcomes included false passage rate, time and tissue injury.
Results: Anaesthesiologists performed 4 cricothyroidotomies on each model with each device. The CG was more successful in airway cannulation (47/56 [89.4%] vs. 33/56 [58.9%], P = 0.007). This difference was observed in the obese model only. The CG was associated with fewer false passages than the standard technique in the obese model (8/56 [14.3%] vs. 23/56 [41.1%], P = 0.006). There were no significant differences in time to completion or injury patterns between the techniques in the obese model, but the SBT was faster in the non-obese model. There was no difference in the proportion of specimens injured.
Conclusion: The Cric-Guide device was more successful than the standard SBT technique in airway cannulation in an obese neck model and with equivalent frequency and distribution of injury but performed equivalently in the non-obese model.
Keywords: Airway; Cricothyroidotomy; Emergency; Front of neck access; Obesity.
© 2021. Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.