Comparison of emergency surgical cricothyroidotomy and percutaneous cricothyroidotomy by experienced airway providers in an obese, in vivo porcine hemorrhage airway model

Mil Med Res. 2022 Oct 11;9(1):57. doi: 10.1186/s40779-022-00418-8.


Background: Emergency front-of-neck airway (eFONA) is a life-saving procedure in "cannot intubate, cannot oxygenate" (CICO). The fastest and most reliable method of eFONA has not been determined. We compared two of the most advocated approaches: surgical cricothyroidotomy and percutaneous cricothyroidotomy, in an obese, in vivo porcine hemorrhage model, designed to introduce real-time physiological feedback, relevant and high provider stress. The primary aim was to determine the fastest method to secure airway. Secondary aims were arterial saturation and partial pressure of oxygen, proxy survival and influence of experience.

Methods: Twelve pigs, mean weight (standard deviation, SD) (60.3 ± 4.1) kg, were anesthetized and exposed to 25-35% total blood volume hemorrhage before extubation and randomization to Seldinger technique "percutaneous cricothyroidotomy" (n = 6) or scalpel-bougie-tube technique "surgical cricothyroidotomy" (n = 6). Specialists in anesthesia and intensive care in a tertiary referral hospital performed the eFONA, simulating an actual CICO-situation.

Results: In surgical cricothyroidotomy vs. percutaneous cricothyroidotomy, the median (interquartile range, IQR) times to secure airway were 109 (IQR 71-130) s and 298 (IQR 128-360) s (P = 0.0152), arterial blood saturation (SaO2) were 74.7 (IQR 46.6-84.2) % and 7.9 (IQR 4.1-15.6) % (P = 0.0167), pO2 were 7.0 (IQR 4.7-7.7) kPa and 2.0 (IQR 1.1-2.9) kPa (P = 0.0667), and times of cardiac arrest (proxy survival) were 137-233 s, 190 (IQR 143-229), from CICO. All six animals survived surgical cricothyroidotomy, and two of six (33%) animals survived percutaneous cricothyroidotomy. Years in anesthesia, 13.5 (IQR 7.5-21.3), did not influence time to secure airway.

Conclusion: eFONA by surgical cricothyroidotomy was faster and had increased oxygenation and survival, when performed under stress by board certified anesthesiologists, and may be an indication of preferred method in situations with hemorrhage and CICO, in obese patients.

Keywords: Emergency front-of-neck airway; Percutaneous cricothyroidotomy; Porcine model; Surgical cricothyroidotomy; cannot oxygenate” (CICO); “Cannot intubate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management* / methods
  • Animals
  • Cricoid Cartilage* / surgery
  • Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Neck / surgery
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Swine