A critique of elective pediatric supraglottic airway devices

Paediatric Anaesthesia
Michelle WhitePeter Stoddart


In 1988, when the Laryngeal Mask Airway-Classic (Intavent Orthofix, Maidenhead, UK), was introduced there were only two choices of airway management: tracheal tube or facemask. The supraglottic airway, as we now understand the term, did not exist. Yet, 20 years later, we are faced with an ever increasing choice of supraglottic airway devices (SAD). For many SADs, with the exception of the LMA-Classic and LMA-Proseal (Intavent Orthofix, Maidenhead, UK), there is a lack of high quality data of efficacy. The best evidence requires a randomized controlled trial comparing a new device against an established alternative, properly powered to detect clinically relevant differences in clinically important outcomes. Such studies in children are very rare. Safety data is even harder to establish particularly for rare events such as aspiration. Therefore, most safety data comes from extended use rather than high quality evidence which inevitably biases against newer devices. For reason of these factors, claims of efficacy and particularly safety must be interpreted cautiously. This narrative review aims to present the evidence surrounding the use of currently available pediatric SADs in routine anesthetic practice.


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