Purpose: Although cricoid pressure (CP) is a superficially simple and appropriate mechanical method to protect the patient from regurgitation and gastric insufflation, in practice it is a complex manoeuvre which is difficult to perform optimally. The purpose of this review is to examine and evaluate studies on the application of (CP). It deals with anatomical and physiological considerations, techniques employed, safety and efficacy issues and the impact of CP on airway management with special mention of the laryngeal mask airway. SOURCE OF MATERIAL: Three medical databases (48 Hours, Medline, and Reference Manager Update) were searched for citations containing key words, subject headings and text entries on CP to October 1996.
Principle findings: There have been no studies proving that CP is beneficial, yet there is evidence that it is often ineffective and that it may increase the risk of failed intubation and regurgitation. After evaluation of all available data, potential guidelines are suggested for optimal use of CP in routine and complex situations.
Conclusions: If CP is to remain standard practice during induction of anaesthesia, it must be shown to be safe and effective. Meanwhile, further understanding of its advantages and limitations, improved training in its use, and guidelines on optimal force and method of application should lead to better patient care.