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Anaesthesia. 2002 Jul;57(7):663-6.

Monitoring pollution by proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry during paediatric anaesthesia with positive pressure ventilation via the laryngeal mask airway or uncuffed tracheal tube.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Leopold-Franzens University, Innsbruck 6020, Austria.


Twenty children aged 2-66 months were randomly allocated for airway management with either the laryngeal mask airway or uncuffed tracheal tube using intermittent positive pressure ventilation with a tidal volume of 8 and a respiratory rate adjusted to maintain end-expiratory carbon dioxide concentration at 5.3 kPa. Induction was with fentanyl/propofol and maintenance was with sevoflurane 2.5% in oxygen/air. The airway device was removed when the patients were awake and the patients were transferred to the postanaesthesia care unit 10 min later. Air was sampled from a point 1.5 m above the floor at a location remote from the ventilation outlet and analysed using a proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer capable of continuous trace gas analysis at the parts per billion volume (ppbv) level. The concentration of sevoflurane was recorded every minute during three consecutive phases: for 5 min before the introduction of sevoflurane (background); after introduction of sevoflurane until removal of the airway device (intra-operative); and every minute after removal until the concentration returned to background levels. Median (interquartile range [range]) intra-operative sevoflurane concentrations were 200-400 times higher than background values for the laryngeal mask airway 1 (1-2 [0-3]) ppbv vs. 404 (278-523 [83-983]) ppbv, respectively, and the tracheal tube 2 (1-3 [0-5]) ppbv vs. 396 (204-589 [107-1735]) ppbv (both p < 0.0001), and returned to background values within 5 min of removal. There were no differences in sevoflurane concentration between devices intra-operatively or after removal. The performance of the proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer was identical at the start and end of the 30-day study. We conclude that peri-operative sevoflurane concentration in a modern operating theatre is similar for the laryngeal mask airway and the uncuffed tracheal tube in paediatric patients receiving intermittent positive pressure ventilation. Intra-operative sevoflurane concentrations are five times lower than occupational safety limit requirements, and 1000 times lower 5 min after removal of the airway device with the patient awake. The proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometer has potential for monitoring air quality in the operating theatre.

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