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A Comparison of the iGel Versus Cricothyrotomy by Combat Medics Using a Synthetic Cadaver Model: A Randomized, Controlled Pilot study

Winter 2020

Schauer SG, April MD, Fairley R, Uhaa N, Hudson IL, Johnson MD, Keen DE, De Lorenzo RA. 20(4). 68 - 72. (Journal Article)


Background: Airway obstruction is the second leading cause of potentially preventable death on the battlefield. Prior to 2017, the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) recommended the surgical cricothyrotomy as the definitive airway of choice. More recently, the CoTCCC has recommended the iGel™ as the supraglottic airway (SGA) of choice. Data comparing these methods in medics are limited. We compared first-pass placement success among combat medics using a synthetic cadaver model. Methods: We conducted a randomized cross-over study of United States Army combat medics using a synthetic cadaver model. Participants performed a surgical cricothyrotomy using a method of their choosing versus placement of the SGA iGel in random order. The primary outcome was first-pass success. Secondary outcomes included time-to-placement, complications, placement failures, and self-reported participant preferences. Results: Of the 68 medics recruited, 63 had sufficient data for inclusion. Most were noncommissioned officers in rank (54%, E6-E7), with 51% reporting previous deployment experience. There was no significant difference in first-pass success (P = .847) or successful cannulation with regard to the two devices. Time-to-placement was faster with the iGel (21.8 seconds vs. 63.8 seconds). Of the 59 medics who finished the survey, we found that 35 (59%) preferred the iGel and 24 (41%) preferred the cricothyrotomy. Conclusions: In our study of active duty Army combat medics, we found no significant difference with regard to first-pass success or overall successful placement between the iGel and cricothyrotomy. Time-to-placement was significantly lower with the iGel. Participants reported preferring the iGel versus the cricothyrotomy on survey. Further research is needed, as limitations in our study highlighted many shortcomings in airway research involving combat medics.

Keywords: combat, medic; airway; cricothyroidotomy; supraglottic; extraglottic

PMID: 33320315

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