Age-related changes in upper airway anatomy may affect the overall performance of supraglottic airways significantly. The clinical performance of the i-gel and the self-pressurized air-Q intubating laryngeal airways with noninflatable cuffs for elderly populations remains unknown, unlike in children. Thus, we performed a prospective, randomized comparison of these 2 supraglottic airways in elderly patients undergoing general anesthesia.
We recruited 100 patients, 65–90 years of age, who were scheduled for elective surgery under general anesthesia with muscle relaxation. The enrolled patients were allocated to the i-gel or self-pressurized air-Q group. We assessed oropharyngeal leak pressure as the primary outcome and fiberoptic view after placement and fixation of the airway and at 10 minutes after the initial assessment. The fiberoptic view was scored using a 5-point scale as follows: vocal cords not visible; vocal cords and anterior epiglottis visible, >50% visual obstruction of epiglottis to vocal cords; vocal cords and anterior epiglottis visible, <50% visual obstruction of epiglottis to vocal cords; vocal cords and posterior epiglottis visible; and vocal cords visible. We also investigated success rate and ease of insertion, insertion time, and manipulations during insertion as insertion variables, complications during maintenance and emergence periods, and postoperative pharyngolaryngeal complications including sore throat, dysphagia, and dysphonia.
After assessing for eligibility, 48 patients were allocated to each group. Oropharyngeal leak pressures were significantly higher in the i-gel group than in the self-pressurized air-Q group (P < .001) at the 2 measurement points. The raw mean difference at initial assessment and the median difference after 10 minutes were 5.5 cm H2O (95% confidence interval, 3.3–7.6 cm H2O) and 5.0 (95% confidence interval, 2.0–7.0 cm H2O), respectively. The initial scores of fiberoptic view were similar in the 2 groups. However, the self-pressurized air-Q supraglottic airway provided a significantly improved fiberoptic view at 10 minutes after initial assessment (P = .030). We found no statistically significant differences in insertion variables and complications between the 2 groups.
The i-gel provided better sealing function than the self-pressurized air-Q supraglottic airway according to the high oropharyngeal leak pressures in elderly patients during general anesthesia. The self-pressurized air-Q supraglottic airway had improved fiberoptic views in elderly patients during general anesthesia.