BACKGROUND: Manikins are widely used in airway management training; however, simulation of realism and interpatient variability remains a challenge. We investigated whether cadavers embalmed with the novel Fix for Life (F4L) embalmment method are a suitable and realistic model for teaching 3 basic airway skills: facemask ventilation, tracheal intubation, and laryngeal mask insertion compared to a manikin (SimMan 3G) and formalin-fixed cadavers.
METHODS: Thirty anesthesiologists and experienced residents ("operators") were instructed to perform the 3 airway techniques in 10 F4L, 10 formalin-fixed cadavers, and 1 manikin. The order of the model type was randomized per operator. Primary outcomes were the operators' ranking of each model type as a teaching model (total rank), ranking of the model types per technique, and an operator's average verbal rating score for suitability and realism of learning the technique on the model. Secondary outcomes were the percentages of successfully performed procedures per technique and per model (success rates in completing the respective airway maneuvers). For each of the airway techniques, the Friedman analysis of variance was used to compare the 3 models on mean operator ranking and mean verbal rating scores.
RESULTS: Twenty-seven of 30 operators (90%) performed all airway techniques on all of the available models, whereas 3 operators performed the majority but not all of the airway maneuvers on all models for logistical reasons. The total number of attempts for each technique was 30 on the manikin, 292 in the F4L, and 282 on the formalin-fixed cadavers. The operators' median total ranking of each model type as a teaching model was 1 for F4L, 2 for the manikin and, 3 for the formalin-fixed cadavers (P < .001). F4L was considered the best model for mask ventilation (P = .029) and had a higher mean verbal rating score for realism in laryngeal mask airway insertion (P = .043). The F4L and manikin did not differ significantly in other scores for suitability and realism. The formalin-fixed cadaver was ranked last and received lowest scores in all procedures (all P < .001). Success rates of the procedures were highest in the manikin.
CONCLUSIONS: F4L cadavers were ranked highest for mask ventilation and were considered the most realistic model for training laryngeal mask insertion. Formalin-fixed cadavers are inappropriate for airway management training.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal.