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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2019 May-Jun;23(3):411-419. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2018.1518506. Epub 2018 Oct 17.

Randomized Comparative Assessment of Three Surgical Cricothyrotomy Devices on Airway Mannequins.



Airway obstruction is the second leading cause of preventable battlefield death, at least in part because surgical cricothyrotomy (SC) failure rates remain unacceptably high. Ideally, SC should be a rapid, simple, easily-learned, and reliably-performed procedure. Currently, 3 SC devices meet Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) standards: The Tactical CricKit® (TCK), Control-CricTM(CC), and Bougie-assisted Technique (BAT). However, no previous studies have compared these devices in application time, application success, user ratings, and user preference.


United States Navy Corpsmen (N = 25) were provided 15 minutes of standardized instruction, followed by hands-on practice with each device on airway mannequins. Participants then performed SC with each of the 3 devices in a randomly assigned sequence. In this within-subjects design, application time, application success, participant ratings, and participant preference data were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA, regression, and non-parametric statistics at p < 0.05.


Application time for CC (M = 184 sec, 95% CI 144-225 sec) was significantly slower than for BAT (M = 135 sec, 95% CI 113-158 sec, p < 0.03) and TCK (M = 117 sec, 95% CI 93-142 sec, p < 0.005). Success was significantly greater for BAT (76%) than for TCK (40%, p < 0.02) and trended greater than CC (48%, p = 0.07). CC was rated significantly lower than TCK and BAT in ease of application, effectiveness, and reliability (each p < 0.01). User preference was significantly (p < 0.01) higher for TCK (58%) and BAT (42%) than for CC (0%). Improved CC blade design was the most common user suggestion.


While this study was limited by the use of mannequins in a laboratory environment, present results indicate that none of these devices was ideal for performing SC. Based on slow application times, low success rates, and user feedback, the Control-CricTM cannot be recommended until improvements are made to the blade design.


airway obstruction; prehospital care; surgical cricothyrotomy; tactical combat casualty care

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