A comparison of three facemasks used during the induction of general anaesthesia

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Background and objective:

A prospective crossover randomized trial was conducted to compare the performance of three commonly used anaesthetic facemasks: a clear plastic ‘Anaesthetic Facemask’ with pre-inflated air cushion, no inflation valve, and for single use (Intersurgical Limited, Wokingham, UK), a clear plastic ‘Air Cushion Mask’ with inflatable air cushion and inflation valve, and for single use (Proact Medical Limited, Kettering, UK), and a black antistatic reusable rubber facemask with pre-inflated air cushion, and no inflation valve (Datex Ohmeda Limited, Hatfield, UK).


After local Ethics Committee approval, written consent was taken from 60 ASA 1 or 2 patients undergoing elective ENT procedures. Following routine intravenous anaesthetic induction and muscle relaxation, a Guedel's oropharyngeal airway was inserted and each of the facemasks tried in a crossover fashion. The degree of chest expansion, the feel on the reservoir bag, the degree of leak around the mask and the overall satisfaction of the anaesthetist were graded and recorded for each facemask.


Both the plastic facemasks performed similarly in all the four criteria. The antistatic rubber facemask performed significantly better than the plastic facemasks in these criteria (P < 0.05).


This study has shown that the antistatic rubber facemask outperformed the two plastic facemasks during routine induction of general anaesthesia. We hope this will encourage manufacturers to improve disposable facemask design to simulate the antistatic rubber facemask.

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