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      Complications Associated with the Use of Supraglottic Airway Devices in Perioperative Medicine

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          Supraglottic airway devices are routinely used for airway maintenance in elective surgical procedures where aspiration is not a significant risk and also as rescue devices in difficult airway management. Some devices now have features mitigating risk of aspiration, such as drain tubes or compartments to manage regurgitated content. Despite this, the use of these device may be associated with various complications including aspiration. This review highlights the types and incidence of these complications. They include regurgitation and aspiration of gastric contents, compression of vascular structures, trauma, and nerve injury. The incidence of such complications is quite low, but as some carry with them a significant degree of morbidity the need to follow manufacturers' advice is underlined. The incidence of gastric content aspiration associated with the devices is estimated to be as low as 0.02% with perioperative regurgitation being significantly higher but underreported. Other serious, but extremely rare, complications include pharyngeal rupture, pneumomediastinum, mediastinitis, or arytenoid dislocation. Mild short-lasting adverse effects of the devices have significantly higher incidence than serious complications and involve postoperative sore throat, dysphagia, pain on swallowing, or hoarseness. Devices may have deleterious effect on cervical mucosa or vasculature depending on their cuff volume and pressure.

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          Major complications of airway management in the UK: results of the Fourth National Audit Project of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Difficult Airway Society. Part 1: anaesthesia.

          This project was devised to estimate the incidence of major complications of airway management during anaesthesia in the UK and to study these events. Reports of major airway management complications during anaesthesia (death, brain damage, emergency surgical airway, unanticipated intensive care unit admission) were collected from all National Health Service hospitals for 1 yr. An expert panel assessed inclusion criteria, outcome, and airway management. A matched concurrent census estimated a denominator of 2.9 million general anaesthetics annually. Of 184 reports meeting inclusion criteria, 133 related to general anaesthesia: 46 events per million general anaesthetics [95% confidence interval (CI) 38-54] or one per 22,000 (95% CI 1 per 26-18,000). Anaesthesia events led to 16 deaths and three episodes of persistent brain damage: a mortality rate of 5.6 per million general anaesthetics (95% CI 2.8-8.3): one per 180,000 (95% CI 1 per 352-120,000). These estimates assume that all such cases were captured. Rates of death and brain damage for different airway devices (facemask, supraglottic airway, tracheal tube) varied little. Airway management was considered good in 19% of assessable anaesthesia cases. Elements of care were judged poor in three-quarters: in only three deaths was airway management considered exclusively good. Although these data suggest the incidence of death and brain damage from airway management during general anaesthesia is low, statistical analysis of the distribution of reports suggests as few as 25% of relevant incidents may have been reported. It therefore provides an indication of the lower limit for incidence of such complications. The review of airway management indicates that in a majority of cases, there is 'room for improvement'.
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            Adverse respiratory events in anesthesia: a closed claims analysis.

            Adverse outcomes associated with respiratory events constitute the single largest class of injury in the American Society of Anesthesiology Closed Claims Study (522 of 1541 cases; 34%). Death or brain damage occurred in 85% of cases. The median cost of settlement or jury award was +200,000. Most outcomes (72%) were considered preventable with better monitoring. Three mechanisms of injury accounted for three-fourths of the adverse respiratory events: inadequate ventilation (196; 38%), esophageal intubation (94; 18%), and difficult tracheal intubation (87; 17%). Inadequate ventilation was used to describe claims in which it was evident that insufficient gas exchange had produced the adverse outcome, but it was not possible to identify the exact cause. This group was characterized by the highest proportion of cases in which care was considered substandard (90%). The esophageal intubation group was notable for a recurring diagnostic failure: in 48% of cases where auscultation of breath sounds was performed and documented, this test led to the erroneous conclusion that the endotracheal tube was correctly located in the trachea. Claims for difficult tracheal intubation were distinguished by a comparatively small proportion of cases (36%) in which the outcome was considered preventable with better monitoring. A better understanding of respiratory risks may require investigative protocols that initiate data collection immediately upon the recognition of a critical incident or adverse outcome.
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              Complications and failure of airway management.

              Airway management complications causing temporary patient harm are common, but serious injury is rare. Because most airways are easy, most complications occur in easy airways: these complications can and do lead to harm and death. Because these events are rare, most of our learning comes from large litigation and critical incident databases that help identify patterns and areas where care can be improved: but both have limitations. The recent 4th National Audit Project of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and Difficult Airway Society provides important detailed information and our best estimates of the incidence of major airway complications. A significant proportion of airway complications occur in Intensive Care Units and Emergency Departments, and these more frequently cause patient harm/death and are associated with suboptimal care. Hypoxia is the commonest cause of airway-related deaths. Obesity markedly increases risk of airway complications. Pulmonary aspiration remains the leading cause of airway-related anaesthetic deaths, most cases having identifiable risk factors. Unrecognized oesophageal intubation is not of only historical interest and is entirely avoidable. All airway management techniques fail and prediction scores are rather poor, so many failures are unanticipated. Avoidance of airway complications requires institutional and individual preparedness, careful assessment, good planning and judgement, good communication and teamwork, knowledge and use of a range of techniques and devices, and a willingness to stop performing techniques when they are failing. Analysis of major airway complications identifies areas where practice is suboptimal; research to improve understanding, prevention, and management of such complications remains an anaesthetic priority.

                Author and article information

                Biomed Res Int
                Biomed Res Int
                BioMed Research International
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                13 December 2015
                : 2015
                1Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Medicine, 1st Medical Faculty, Charles University in Prague and General University Hospital, U Nemocnice 2, 120 21 Prague, Czech Republic
                2University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK
                3Department of Anaesthetics, Antrim Area Hospital, Bush Road, Antrim BT41 4RD, UK
                4Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Medicine, St. Anne University Hospital, Pekarska 53, 656 91 Brno, Czech Republic
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Yukio Hayashi

                Copyright © 2015 Pavel Michalek et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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