Aerosol precautions and airway complications: a national prospective multicentre cohort study

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Abstract

The perceived risk of transmission of aerosolised viral particles from patients to airway practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the widespread use of aerosol precautions, including personal protective equipment and modifications to anaesthetic technique. The risk of these aerosol precautions on peri-operative airway complications has not been assessed outside of simulation studies. This prospective, national, multicentre cohort study aimed to quantify this risk. Adult patients undergoing general anaesthesia for elective or emergency procedures over a 96-hour period were included. Data collected included use of aerosol precautions by the airway practitioner, airway complications and potential confounding variables. Mixed-effects logistic regression was used to assess the risk of individual aerosol precautions on overall and specific airway complications. Data from 5905 patients from 70 hospital sites were included. The rate of airway complications was 10.0% (95%CI 9.2–10.8%). Use of filtering facepiece class 2 or class 3 respirators was associated with an increased risk of airway complications (odds ratio 1.38, 95%CI 1.04–1.83), predominantly due to an association with difficult facemask ventilation (odds ratio 1.68, 95%CI 1.09–2.61) and desaturation on pulse oximetry (odds ratio 2.39, 95%CI 1.26–4.54). Use of goggles, powered air-purifying respirators, long-sleeved gowns, double gloves and videolaryngoscopy were not associated with any alteration in the risk of airway complications. Overall, the use of filtering facepiece class 2 or class 3 respirators was associated with an increased risk of airway complications, but most aerosol precautions used during the COVID-19 pandemic were not.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnaesthesia
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Anaesthesia published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association of Anaesthetists.

Keywords

  • aerosol precautions
  • airway complications
  • COVID-19
  • intubation

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