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Correct placement of supraglottic airway devices (SGDs) is crucial for patient safety and of prime concern of anesthesiologists who want to provide effective and efficient airway management to their patients undergoing surgery or procedures requiring anesthesia care. In the majority of cases, blind insertion of SGDs results in less-than-optimal anatomical and functional positioning of the airway devices. Malpositioning can cause clinical malfunction and result in interference with gas exchange, loss-of-airway, gastric inflation, and aspiration of gastric contents. A close match is needed between the shape and profile of SGDs and the laryngeal inlet. An adequate first seal (with the respiratory tract) and a good fit at the second seal of the distal cuff and the gastrointestinal tract are most desirable. Vision-guided insertion techniques are ideal and should be the way forward. This article recommends the use of third-generation vision-incorporated-video SGDs, which allow for direct visualization of the insertion process, corrective maneuvers, and, when necessary, insertion of a nasogastric tube (NGT) and/or endotracheal tube (ETT) intubation. A videoscope embedded within the SGD allows a visual check of the glottis opening and position of the epiglottis. This design affords the benefit of confirming and/or correcting a SGD's position in the midline and rotation in the sagittal plane. The first clinically available video laryngeal mask airways (VLMAs) and multiple prototypes are being tested and used in anesthesia. Existing VLMAs are still not perfect, and further improvements are recommended. Additional modifications in multicamera technology, to obtain a panoramic view of the SGD sitting correctly in the hypopharynx and to prove that correct sizes have been used, are in the process of production. Ultimately, any device inserted orally-SGD, ETT, NGT, temperature probe, transesophageal scope, neural integrity monitor (NIM) tubes-could benefit from correct vision-guided positioning. VLMAs also allow for automatic recording, which can be documented in clinical records of patients, and could be valuable during teaching and research, with potential value in case of legal defence (with an airway incident). If difficulties occur with the airway, documentation in the patient's file may help future anesthesiologists to better understand the real-time problems. Both manufacturers and designers of SGDs may learn from optimally positioned SGDs to improve the design of these airway devices.

Original publication




Journal article


Anesth Analg

Publication Date





337 - 349


Humans, Intubation, Intratracheal, Laryngeal Masks, Airway Management, Anesthesia, Larynx