A new breathing tube in the hands of emergency medical technicians could increase the survivability of patients with sudden cardiac arrest, according to a new National Institutes of Health-funded study.
“During resuscitation, opening the airway and having proper access to it is a key factor for the survival of someone who goes into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital,” said George Sopko, M.D., M.P.H., program director in NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and co-author of the study. “But one of the burning questions in prehospital emergency care has been, ‘Which is the best airway device?’”
The study examined the effectiveness of the laryngeal tube compared with the tracheal tube, used for more than three decades, for resuscitation during medical emergencies involving Out-of-Hospital-Cardiac-Arrest (OHCA) and found the first of the two to have higher survival rates.
Tracking 27 emergency management agencies and 3000 adult patients across the country, researchers found that the laryngeal tube had higher outcomes of initial airway success, 72-hour survival, the return of spontaneous circulation, hospital survival and favorable neurological status.
“This study demonstrated that just by managing the airway well in the early stage of resuscitation, we could save more than 10,000 lives every year,” said Sopko.
While both are designed to be orally inserted, the laryngeal tube has a “simpler design” and is easier to insert into the throat, while the tracheal tube “requires some skill and could take more time,” according to Sopko.
Sopko explained the laryngeal tube is more compact when stored on an ambulance, and the training was “faster and easier.”
The main limitation, according to Sopko, was the number of EMS units and patients involved in the study, calling it a “small number” but “reasonable” for researchers’ objectives.
An OHCA is defined as cessation of cardiac mechanical activity that is confirmed by the absence of signs of circulation and that occurs outside of a hospital setting, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2016, more than 350,000 incidents of OHCA were recorded, with a 12-percent overall survival rate and a 46- percent survival rate if CPR is initiated.