Background: There is a paucity of evidence regarding the optimal type of tracheal tube to be advanced over a Frova catheter when performing a 'bougie' emergency front-of-neck airway (eFONA) technique in infants during a 'cannot intubate, cannot oxygenate' situation.
Methods: A prospective non-inferiority trial in a rabbit cadaver surgical tracheotomy model to assess the performance of the eFONA technique with an uncuffed 3.5 mm ID tracheal tube vs a cuffed 3.0 mm ID tracheal tube. Queried outcomes include success rate, performance time, and severe secondary airway injuries among tracheal tube types.
Results: In 60 tracheostomies performed by 30 participants, the overall success rate was 98%. Performance time was independent from tracheal tube choice (uncuffed: 61 s [95% confidence interval (CI), 52-76], cuffed: 64 s [95% CI, 55-79]; P = 0.82). No tracheal tube type was preferred in terms of usability by participants. The cuffed tracheal tube required increased force to be advanced over the Frova catheter and was associated with a risk ratio of 2.5 (95% CI, 0.53-11.9; number needed to harm, 10) for severe secondary airway injuries when compared with the uncuffed tracheal tube.
Conclusion: In performing eFONA in the rabbit cadaver model, an ID 3.5 uncuffed is non-inferior to an ID 3.0 cuffed tracheal tube regarding performance time and preference by the operator. Greater force application to advance the cuffed tube over the Frova catheter and more severe airway injuries may argue for the standardised performance of the eFONA technique with a uncuffed tracheal tube in infants.
Keywords: cannot intubate cannot oxygenate; cuffed versus uncuffed tracheal tube; emergency front-of-neck airway; emergency tracheotomy; infants; rabbit cadaver model.