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Anesthesiology. 2005 Feb;102(2):315-9.

Cricoid pressure does not increase the rate of failed intubation by direct laryngoscopy in adults.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.



Cricoid pressure (CP) is applied during induction of anesthesia to prevent regurgitation of gastric content and pulmonary aspiration. However, it has been suggested that CP makes tracheal intubation more difficult. This double-blind randomized study evaluated the effect of CP on orotracheal intubation by direct laryngoscopy in adults.


Seven hundred adult patients undergoing general anesthesia for elective surgery were randomly assigned to have a standardized CP (n = 344) or a sham CP (n = 356) during laryngoscopy and intubation. After anesthesia induction and complete muscle relaxation, a 30-s period was allowed to complete intubation with a Macintosh No. 3 laryngoscope blade. The primary endpoint was the rate of failed intubation at 30 s. The secondary endpoints included the intubation time, the Cormack and Lehane grade of laryngoscopic view, and the Intubation Difficulty Scale score.


Groups were similar for demographic data and risk factors for difficult intubation. The rates of failed intubation at 30 s were comparable for the two groups: 15 of 344 (4.4%) and 13 of 356 (3.7%) in the CP and sham CP groups, respectively (P = 0.70). The grades of laryngoscopic view and the Intubation Difficulty Scale score were also comparable. Median intubation time was slightly longer in the CP group than in the sham CP group (11.3 and 10.4 s, respectively, P = 0.001).


CP applied by trained personnel does not increase the rate of failed intubation. Hence CP should not be avoided for fear of increasing the difficulty of intubation when its use is indicated.

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