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Background: The endotracheal tube (ETT) has traditionally been considered the best airway device during adenotonsillectomy because a well protected and secured airway is provided. This has been challenged by the introduction of the reinforced laryngeal mask airway (RLMA). It does not kink, is less traumatic during insertion and better tolerated during emergence. The purpose of this study was to compare the use of the RLMA with ETT with regards to postoperative pain, nausea, vomiting and perioperative efficacy in a series of children due for adenotonsillectomy.

Methods: One hundred and thirty-four children, aged 3-16 years and scheduled for ambulatory adenotonsillectomies, were randomly assigned to two groups where the airways were secured with either the ETT (n = 62) or the RLMA (n = 69). We registered the incidence of peroperative and postoperative anaesthesiological complications and time consume, in addition to postoperative pain, nausea and overall satisfaction.

Results: The Group RLMA scored significantly lower for maximal pain during the first 4 h postoperatively (P = 0.015). There were no significant differences in pain scores at 24 h or rescue pain medication postoperatively. The Group RLMA spent mean 4.2 min less in the operating room after surgery (P = 0.001). There were no significant differences in postoperative nausea. In those patients finally treated with ETT, including five conversions from RLMA, significantly more patients (10 vs. 2) had airway irritations (P < 0.02).

Conclusion: The RLMA, when feasible, is a well tolerated and effective alternative to the ETT for use during adenotonsillectomies in children, with beneficial effects on airway irritations, operating room efficiency and early postoperative pain.

(C) 2010 European Society of Anaesthesiology