Airway management in cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Jasmeet Soar*, Jerry P. Nolan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of Review: The optimal method for airway management during cardiac arrest is unknown. This review summarizes recent evidence comparing the use of basic and advanced airway interventions [insertion of supraglottic airway (SGA) devices and tracheal intubation], including the role of capnography during cardiac arrest. Recent Findings: A large observational study [649 359 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs)] has shown that the risk-adjusted odds of neurologically favourable survival were higher for those treated with bag-mask ventilation compared with SGA insertion or tracheal intubation. Two recent, large observational studies suggest that tracheal intubation for OHCA may be superior to SGA use. These observational studies share an important weakness: they rely on statistical risk-adjustment to account for other factors that may influence outcome, and hidden confounders may account for the differences in outcome associated with each of the airway management strategies. Summary: Most of the evidence about airway management during cardiac arrest comes from observational studies. The best airway option is likely to be different for different rescuers, and at different time points of the resuscitation process. Properly designed, prospective, randomized trials are needed to help determine the optimal airway strategy. In our view, there is currently sufficient clinical equipoise to support such trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Critical Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Airway management
  • Bag-mask ventilation
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Supraglottic airway
  • Tracheal intubation

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