The value of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) in maintaining oxygenation during ventilation with a laryngeal mask airway (LMA) mask is unclear. To clarify the potential benefit or harm to PEEP application during positive pressure ventilation with a ProSeal LMA® mask, we compared the effect of PEEP versus zero end-expiratory pressure (ZEEP) on gas leakage and oxygenation. We hypothesized that a PEEP of 8 mbar (8.2 cm H2O) would be associated with an increased incidence of gas leakage compared to ZEEP.
We designed a prospective, controlled, randomized, single-blinded, multicenter clinical trial. Patients >18 years of age with an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status I/II without increased risk of aspiration were enrolled if they were scheduled for elective surgery under general anesthesia with an LMA mask. Patients were randomized to a control group managed with ZEEP or an intervention group managed with a PEEP of 8 mbar. Both groups received positive pressure ventilation. The primary end point was the occurrence of gas leakage. The Student t test and χ2 test were used for statistical analysis.
A total of 174 patients were enrolled in the ZEEP group, and 208 were enrolled in the PEEP group. The incidence of gas leakage did not differ between the 2 groups (ZEEP: 23/174, 13.2%; PEEP: 42/208, 20.2%; P = .071; odds ratio [OR], 1.611; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.954–2.891). However, more patients required reseating of the LMA mask in the PEEP group (ZEEP: 5/174, 2.9%; PEEP: 18/208, 8.7%; P = .018; OR, 3.202; 95% CI, 1.164–8.812). The need for endotracheal intubation did not differ between groups (ZEEP: 2/174, 1.1%; PEEP: 7/208, 3.4%; P = .190; OR, 2.995; 95% CI, 0.614–14.608). After positive pressure ventilation for 25 minutes, the mean peripheral oxygen saturation (Spo2) was higher in the PEEP than in the ZEEP group (98.5 [1.9]% vs 98.0 [1.4]%; P = .01). Peak inspiratory pressure (PIP; 16  vs 12  mbar; P < .001) and dynamic compliance (57  vs 49  mL/mbar; P < .001) were both higher in the PEEP group than in the ZEEP group.
Use of PEEP did not affect the overall incidence of gas leakage. However, PEEP did result in a higher incidence of attempts to reseat the LMA mask compared to ZEEP, whereas the incidence of rescue intubation did not differ between groups. We concluded that a PEEP of 8 mbar did not increase overall gas leakage during positive pressure ventilation with an LMA mask, but it did slightly improve gas exchange and compliance. Overall, our study does not provide strong arguments for using PEEP during ventilation with an LMA mask in elective surgery.