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Anaesth Intensive Care. 2010 Jan;38(1):50-4.

Fibreoptic assessment of paediatric sized laryngeal mask airways.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


Laryngeal mask airways (LMA) are commonly used in paediatric anaesthesia. A well-placed LMA should provide a direct view of the vocal cords facilitating bronchoscopy or fibreoptic intubation. The aim of this audit was to assess the bronchoscopic view of the glottis obtained through an LMA with regard to its size. We prospectively assessed the position of LMAs in relation to the glottic aperture in 350 children (zero to seven years) undergoing elective fibreoptic examination of the upper and/or lower airways. Following induction of anaesthesia and positioning of the LMA, a fibreoptic evaluation of the view of the glottis was performed (complete, partial or no visualisation). Chest movement on manual ventilation was judged as good in the majority of patients and adequate for the remainder. No overt signs of airway obstruction were noted in any patient. However, a complete view of the glottic aperture was present in only 50% of size 1 LMAs, 57.5% of size 1.5, 72.7% of size 2 and 77.8% of size 2.5. The epiglottis impinged on the LMA opening, partially obstructing the view of the glottis in 36.3% of size 1 LMAs, 31.5% of size 1.5, 21% of size 2 and 17.8% of size 2.5. In 13.7% of size 1 LMAs, 11% of size 1.5, 6.3% of size 2 and 4.4% of size 2.5, the epiglottis was completely downfolded, obstructing the view of the glottic aperture. The findings indicate that even if ventilation is judged as adequate, smaller paediatric LMAs are more commonly associated with suboptimal anatomical positioning with partial obstruction of the glottic aperture than larger LMAs, and therefore may require repositioning more often.

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