In this review, Karmali & Rose challenge the dogma surrounding endotracheal tube sizing for adult anaesthesia, traditionally sizing based on sex.
What did they cover?
They explored both the functional consequences (good and bad) of ETT size, as well as airway trauma.
Noting that an ETT ≥ 6.0mm ID will accomodate most intraluminal devices, and in fact at these smaller sizes fibreoptic intubation or passage through an LMA is easier, however smaller tubes are more readily obstructed and deformed.
Ventilation through smaller ETTs
While smaller tubes may require slightly higher inspiratory pressures, these are generally not clinically significant with modern ventilators, and importantly do not translate to higher intra-tracheal or alveolar pressures experienced by the patient.
Similarly, expiratory gas flow is not significantly effected by a small ETT (6.0 mm) for most patients even at high minute ventilations (although use cautiously in patients with chronic airway limitation). Significant gas trapping at normal MV will start to occur with ETT < 5.0 mm.
Size and airway trauma?
While the internal diameter (ID) is important for anaesthesia conduct, it is the external diameter that matters for airway trauma (a standard 8.0 mm ID ETT has a 10.5 mm ED!).
They note while there is wide individual variation in tracheal dimensions, the trachea is narrowest at the subglottis – and thus adequate visualisation of the glottis at time of intubation is an incomplete indicator of the tube size suitability for the subglottis.
Not only do some adult women have an airway size at the lower-limit of acceptability for traditional 7.0-8.0 mm ETTs, but there is also correlation between ETT size and airway trauma, hoarseness and sore throat. A large ETT can result in mucosal ischaemia and ulceration after as little as 2 hours.
"Instead of opting for ‘the largest tube that the larynx will comfortably accommodate’, we perhaps should consider using the smallest tube which permits the safe conduct of anaesthesia."
For routine anaesthesia of ASA 1 & 2 patients, an ETT sized 6.0-7.0 mm is probably the best balance between ventilation needs and airway trauma.
But remember, many of the concerns for tracheal tube trauma are based upon critical care experience, not anaesthesia. While a smaller tube is very likely beneficial for most elective adult patients, most benefit will simply be reduction in post-operative sore throat and hoarseness.summary
LMA and Caesarean – why should I care?
There is a small attitude change underway in the use of supraglottic airway devices (SGA) in obstetric anaesthesia. While there is already an appreciation of their role in obstetric airway rescue, we now see a shift in some countries to use an SGA as the primary airway choice for Caesarean section under general anaesthesia.
Anaesthesiologists need to be aware of this attitudinal shift, and importantly appreciate the inherent compromises and uncertainties driving it.
In this editorial, Metodiev & Mushambi review changing attitudes toward obstetric airway preference, the realities of maternal aspiration risk, and several large studies suggesting acceptable safety when using a SGA for Caesarean GA.
The tension between airway and aspiration
It is well accepted that regional anaesthesia for Caesarean section is overwhelmingly the best choice, driven first by the historical experience of maternal general anaesthesia risk. The very features that underline this safety improvement are also those in tension when considering endotracheal intubation or SGA: risk of failed intubation versus aspiration.
Studies showing safety
Several retrospective, prospective and randomised studies totalling more than 8,000 patients have concluded that in these populations, SGA use (mainly 2nd generation devices, such as ProSeal™ or LMA Supreme™) was not associated with any greater risk of aspiration. This includes both the single largest study investigating 3,000 women (Halaseah 2010), and two RCTs (Yao 2019 & Li 2017), none of which identified any cases of aspiration (although there was a single regurgitation).
So on the surface, SGA use appears arguably safe, particularly with careful patient selection. Among the studies, generally obese patients and those with reflux were excluded, muscle relaxants were frequently used, an orogastric tube was inserted, and cricoid pressure was used at least for some periods of airway intervention.
And yet we do know from NAP4 (2011) that aspiration is a real danger, accounting for 50% of anaesthesia-related deaths.
Is gastric ultrasound the answer?
No. Next question... 😉
While gastric ultrasound shows some utility in quantifying residual gastric volume, it is 1. Not possible to equate this to aspiration risk in pregnant patients, 2. Technically difficult in the pregnant patient.
They conclude that...
"...there is insufficient evidence to recommend universal or selective replacement of tracheal tubes with SGA devices during general anaesthesia for Caesarean delivery. Aspiration remains the main concern."
And before you get too excited by the lack of observed aspiration in these large studies, as Metodiev & Mushambi note, many of the studied populations were Asian and Middle Eastern, having different diets and obesity prevalence than Europe, Oceania and North America.summary
Although several therapeutic agents have been evaluated for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), none have yet been shown to be efficacious. ⋯ Remdesivir was superior to placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults hospitalized with Covid-19 and evidence of lower respiratory tract infection. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; ACCT-1 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04280705.).