Background: SimMan™ is a full-scale patient simulator, capable of simulating normal and pathological airways. The performance of SimMan™ has never been critically evaluated.
Methods: Sixty subjects (anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and anesthesia residents) performed mask ventilation, laryngeal mask insertion and endotracheal intubation on SimMan™. The simulator's airway was evaluated using visual analog scales (VAS) and by measuring the subject's performances.
Results: The SimManTM full-scale patient simulator's airway is generally acceptably realistic but it significantly differs from the human airway in important aspects. Mask seal was more difficult than in humans whereas Laryngeal mask (LMATM) insertion and function was acceptable. The distance from the teeth to the vallecula was too short. Cervical spine mobility was significantly reduced in the ‘reduced neck movement’ mode but the intubation was only slightly more difficult than in the ‘normal’ mode.
Conclusion: The SimManTM full-scale patient simulator's airway is generally acceptably realistic but it significantly differs from the human airway in important aspects. The user must be aware of these aspects in order to obtain maximum benefit from training and evaluation scenarios and when using the simulator for testing new equipment and techniques.