Original Article

Airway management in anesthesia for thoracic surgery: a “real life” observational study

Nicola Langiano, Silvia Fiorelli, Cristian Deana, Antonio Baroselli, Elena Giovanna Bignami, Carola Matellon, Livia Pompei, Anna Tornaghi, Federico Piccioni, Remo Orsetti, Cecilia Coccia, Noemi Sacchi, Rocco D’Andrea, Luca Brazzi, Carlo Franco, Rosanna Accardo, Antonio Di Fuccia, Francesco Baldinelli, Pasquale De Negri, Angelo Gratarola, Chiara Angeletti, Francesco Pugliese, Marco Valerio Micozzi, Domenico Massullo, Giorgio Della Rocca


Background: One-lung ventilation (OLV) in thoracic anesthesia is required to provide good surgical exposure. OLV is commonly achieved through a double lumen tube (DLT) or a bronchial blocker (BB). Malposition is a relevant issue related to these devices use. No prospective studies with adequately large sample size have been performed to evaluate the malposition rate of DLTs and BBs.
Methods: A total of 2,127 patients requiring OLV during thoracic surgery were enrolled. The aim of this multicenter prospective observational study performed across 26 academic and community hospitals is to evaluate intraoperative malposition rate of DLTs and BBs. We also aim to assess: which device is the most used to achieve OLV, the frequency of bronchoscope (BRO) use, the incidence rate of desaturation during OLV and the role of other factors that can correlate to this event, and incidence of difficult airway.
Results: Malposition rate for DLTs was 14%, for BBs 33%. DLTs were used in 95% of patients and BBs in 5%. Mean positioning time was shorter for DLT than BB (156±230 vs. 321±290 s). BRO was used in 54% of patients to check the correct positioning of the DLT. Desaturation occurred in 20% of all cases during OLV achieved through a DLT. Predicting factors of desaturation were dislocation (OR 2.03) and big size of DLT (OR 1.15). BRO use (OR 0.69) and left surgical side (OR 0.41) proved to be protective factors. Difficult airway prevalence was 16%; 10.8% predicted and 5.2% unpredicted.
Conclusions: DLT has a low malpositioning rate and is the preferred device to achieve OLV. BRO use recorded was unexpectedly low. The possibility of encountering a difficult airway is frequent, with an overall prevalence of 16%. Risk factors of desaturation are malposition and increased size of DLT. Left procedures and BRO use could lead to fewer episodes of desaturation.

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