Human cadavers preserved using Thiel's method for the teaching of fibreoptically-guided intubation of the trachea: a laboratory investigation.
We assessed the suitability of human cadavers preserved using Thiel's method for teaching flexible fibreoptic tracheal intubation. Thirty-one anaesthetists unacquainted with this technique received didactic teaching followed by handling of the fibrescope on the Oxford teaching box. They then carried out fibreoptic intubations in two cadavers to establish a baseline sample of their intubation skills. Thereafter, we randomly assigned the trainees to two groups to practice fibreoptic intubation either on two distinct cadavers or on two airway manikins. After 7 days we re-assessed procedural skills using the same cadavers as at baseline. Intubation time was the primary outcome and secondary outcomes included the incidence of failed intubations. We also evaluated trainee satisfaction. The mean (SD) intubation time decreased from a baseline value of 74 (20) s to 35 (6) s in the cadaver group and to 56 (16) s in the manikin group. The effect of 'time' was significant (p = 0.002), indicating that both methods of training led to improvements. The training effect of the cadaveric method was greater than with the manikin method (p = 0.0016). Thirty-four failed intubations occurred at baseline vs. eight at the end of study (RR 0.24, 95%CI 0.11-0.51, p = 0.0002, NNT 9.6); six in the cadaver group and two in the manikin group (p = 0.22). We conclude that human cadavers preserved using Thiel's method are potentially better for teaching flexible fibreoptic tracheal intubation compared with manikins.