, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., and his coauthors wrote that their results suggested for every nine critically ill patients undergoing tracheal intubation, bag-mask ventilation would prevent severe hypoxemia in one patient.
“These findings are important because oxygen saturation is an established endpoint in airway management trials and is a contributing factor to periprocedural cardiac arrest and death,” they wrote.
They noted that there are conflicting guidelines on the use of bag-mask ventilation during tracheal intubation, with some recommending its use for all patients – even those who are not hypoxemic – and others advising their use only for patients with hypoxemia. This study excluded patients who were identified as hypoxemic or in whom bag-mask ventilation was contraindicated.
Despite concerns about bag-mask ventilation increasing the risk the aspiration, the study showed no significant difference between the two groups in the incidence of operator-reported aspiration or the presence of a new opacity on chest radiograph in the 48 hours after intubation.
The authors acknowledged that, given the low incidence of operator-reported aspiration during tracheal intubation, a much larger study would be needed to show whether bag-mask ventilation did increase the risk of aspiration.
“However, our trial provides some reassurance, since the incidence of operator-reported aspiration was numerically lower in the bag-mask ventilation group than in the no-ventilation group,” they wrote.
There were also no significant differences between the two groups in oxygen saturation, fraction of inspired oxygen or positive end-expiratory pressure in the 24 hours after intubation. Bag-mask ventilation was also associated with similar rates of in-hospital mortality, number of ventilator-free days, and days out of the ICU as no-ventilation.
The authors noted that their trial focused on critically-ill patients in the ICU, so the results may not be generalizable to patients in the emergency department or in a prehospital setting.
The study and some authors were supported by the National Institutes of Health. Two authors declared personal fees from the pharmaceutical industry unrelated to the study, and no other conflicts of interest were declared.
SOURCE: Casey J et al. N Engl J Med. 2019 Feb 18. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1812405