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In a prospective, randomised trial, 75 patients scheduled for routine surgery were randomly allocated to one of three groups to evaluate trauma and postoperative complications after insertion of the Combitube, tracheal tube or laryngeal mask airway. Insertion of the Combitube was associated with a higher incidence of sore throat (48% vs. 16% vs. 12% [p < 0.01]) and dysphagia (68% vs. 12% vs. 8% [p < 0.01]) compared with tracheal intubation or insertion of the laryngeal mask airway, respectively. Hoarseness was significantly less common in both the Combitube and the laryngeal mask groups (both 12%) than in the tracheal tube group (44%; p < 0.01). Haematoma occurred in 36% of the Combitube group compared with 4% in both the laryngeal mask and the tracheal tube groups (p < 0.01). The higher incidence of complications should be considered when using the Combitube.