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Prehosp Emerg Care. 1998 Apr-Jun;2(2):96-100.

Choice of airway devices for 12,020 cases of nontraumatic cardiac arrest in Japan.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Kitakyushu, Japan.



This retrospective study was designed to determine the choice of airway devices used for nontraumatic, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients and to evaluate the success and failure of insertion and airway control/ventilation by three airway adjuncts, the Combitube, the esophageal gastric tube airway (EGTA), and the laryngeal mask (LM), which were used in conjunction with the bag-valve-mask (BVM) by emergency life-saving technicians (ELSTs) in Japan.


A survey of 1,085 ELSTs was performed to identify the type of airway devices, the success rates of airway insertion, the effectiveness of airway control/ventilation in comparison with the BVM prior to each airway insertion, and associated complications. The type of education for airway skills was also surveyed.


1,079 surveys were returned and 12,020 cases of cardiac arrest were studied. Choice of airway devices: BVM, 7,180 cases; EGTA, 545 cases; Combitube, 1,594 cases; and LM, 2,701 cases. Successful insertion rates on the first attempt: EGTA, 82.7%; Combitube, 82.4%; and LM, 72.5% (p < 0.0001). Failed insertions: EGTA, 8.2%; Combitube, 6.9%; and LM, 10.5% (p < 0.0001). Successful ventilation: EGTA, 71.0%; Combitube, 78.9%; and LM, 71.5% (p < 0.0004). Six cases of aspiration were reported in the LM group, whereas nine cases of soft-tissue injuries, including esophageal perforation, were reported in the Combitube group. 17.8% had vomited either prior or during airway placement.


The Combitube appears to be the most appropriate choice among the airway devices examined. However, serious injuries to the tissues, though they rarely occurred in the study, remain a major concern.

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