Background. Cricothyroidotomy is a surgical airway technique in which an airway device is inserted into the trachea through an incision made at the cricothyroid membrane. It is used for the management of the “difficult airways” and may be a lifesaving procedure in “can’t intubate, can’t oxygenate” situations. However, many healthcare professionals working in emergency settings have little of no experience with this procedure. Achievement of theoretical and practical knowledge of different cricothyrotomy techniques is therefore a fundamental prerequisite for those healthcare professionals.
Materials and methods. In this study, 40 volunteers representative of different categories of healthcare professionals were enrolled for the theoretical and practical 1-day training course on cricothyrotomy. Two commercially available device for cricothyrotomy were used during the course, the Melker™ set, which involves the Seldinger technique, and the QuickTrach™ kit, which does not rely on the use of a guide-wire.
Each participant performed a series of 5 attempts on a manikin with each kit. Procedure time was recorded, and satisfaction with the course, preference for each cricothyrotomy kit and self-rating of cricothyrotomy skills were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire.
Results. Mean procedure time significantly decreased from the first to the last attempt (48.7±21.9 and 27.8±13.7 seconds, respectively; p<0.0001). The Melker™ set was the most preferred, being rated as “excellent” by 62% of participants. This preference was even more pronounced among anaesthesiologists, that are more familiar with the Seldinger technique. Participants’ satisfaction was high: the course was rated as “excellent” by 66.7% of attendees, the theoretical and practical knowledge achieved was rated as “very useful” by 94% of all attendees and by 100% of the anaesthesiologists.
Conclusions. A systematic approach to teach healthcare professionals in the application of various devices for the management of the socalled "difficult airways" may maximize intubation success and minimize complication. The present study provides evidence for the efficacy of training courses in Emergency Departments aimed at improving theoretical and practical cricothyrotomy skills in emergency situations.