Surgical vs wire-guided cricothyroidotomy: a randomised crossover study of cuffed and uncuffed tracheal tube insertion


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    This work has been presented in part at the Liverpool Society of Anaesthetists in February 2005 and at the annual meeting of the Difficult Airway Society in November 2005.

Dr S. Q. M. Tighe


Using an airway mannequin and artificial lung model, we compared surgical cricothyroidotomy with a 6.0-mm cuffed Portex tracheostomy tube with wire-guided cricothyroidotomy using a 5.0-mm cuffed Melker or 6.0-mm uncuffed Melker tube. The trial was carried out by 27 anaesthetists using a randomised, crossover design. Surgical cricothyroidotomy proved significantly faster (mean (SD) time to first breath 44.3 (12.5) s for Portex surgical, 87.2 (21.6) s for cuffed Melker, 87.8 (19.2) s for uncuffed Melker, p < 0.001). With a standardised ventilator model, the cuffed tubes provided more effective ventilation (mean (SD) tidal volume 446 (41) ml Portex, 436 (52) ml cuffed Melker, 19 (5) ml uncuffed Melker, p < 0.001). Fourteen of the participants preferred the wire-guided system. We conclude that, in this model, a cuffed device is preferable when cricothyroidotomy is needed. In addition, the surgical method is quicker than a wire-guided approach.