Comparison of laryngeal mask airway vs tracheal intubation: a systematic review on airway complications

Babette F. van Esch*, Inge Stegeman, Adriana L. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


To determine whether the laryngeal mask airway (LMA) has advantages over the tracheal tube (TT) in terms of incidence of cough, sore throat, laryngospasm, dysphagia, dysphonia, and blood staining. This is a systematic literature review performed at the Universtity Medical Center of Utrecht. The online databases PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched for relevant randomized controlled trials. Two independent reviewers selected relevant articles after title, abstract, and full text screening. Articles were assessed on risk of bias in accordance with the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Study results of the LMA and the TT were related to the method of selection of the device size and the method for cuff inflation. Of the 1718 unique articles, we included 19 studies which used the LMA Classic, the LMA Proseal, the Flexible Reinforced LMA, and the LMA Supreme compared with TT. After methodological inspection, data could not be pooled due to heterogeneity among the selected studies. Overall, no clear advantage of the LMA over the TT was found but the LMA Supreme was related to the lowest incidence of airway complications. In this review, no clear difference in incidence of postoperative airway complications could be demonstrated between LMA and TT. The LMA Supreme may reduce the incidence of airway complication in comparison to the TT but high quality randomized trials are recommended to further objectify if use of the LMA decreases the risk on postoperative airway complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-150
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of clinical anesthesia
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Airway complications
  • Laryngeal mask airway
  • Tracheal tube
  • review


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