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A prospective study was conducted to determine the rate of skill acquisition with the laryngeal mask airway in pediatric anesthesiology practice. The aim of the study was to provide information about the amount of supervised training required before satisfactory levels of skill were achieved.Eight anesthesia residents in their third year of training with no prior experience using the laryngeal mask airway were observed using the device in 75 pediatric patients each (600 patients in total). Residents were given standardized guidelines for laryngeal mask airway usage in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations and followed a predetermined protocol for anesthetic management. Induction was achieved with propofol followed by either a propofol infusion or isoflurane and either controlled or spontaneous ventilation as clinically indicated. Predefined major and minor problems were documented during the induction, maintenance, and recovery phases of anesthesia by a randomly selected supervising consultant trained in the study protocol and problem definitions.The total number of problems was 189 occurring in 121 children. Fifty-five children had one problem, sixty-four children had two problems, and two children had three problems. Of the problems, 77 were major and 112 were minor. The problem rate per patient for overall, major, and minor problems was 31.5%, 12.8%, and 18.7%, respectively. The problem rate comparing the first to last epochs of 15 uses decreased from 62% to 2% for overall problems, 23% to 2% for major problems, and 39 to 1% for minor problems. The residents with the most problems in the final epoch had problem rates of less than 10% after 60 uses. There was a significant decrease in the overall problem rate for induction, maintenance, and recovery (P < 0.05). The major problem rate decreased significantly for induction and maintenance (p < 0.05), but not for recovery. The minor problem rate decreased significantly for induction and recovery (P < 0.05).This study confirms that there is a rapid improvement in laryngeal mask airway skills when the standard recommended technique is employed and that a low problem rate can be achieved within 75 uses. Pediatric anesthesiologists with problem rates greater than 10% should determine if they are using the device suboptimally.