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Online ISSN 1827-1596
Department of Anesthesia, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
Nearly 40 years ago, cricoid pressure (CP) was introduced into anesthetic practice based on a single small case series that lacked essential information. No randomized controlled trials have since documented any benefit of CP. In addition, numerous surveys have shown that most anesthetists lack adequate theoretical and practical knowledge regarding all aspects of CP. Despite the lack of evidence of its effectiveness, evidence of numerous deleterious effects (the most important being interference with airway management), and documentation of poor practice of the technique, CP is still considered by most anesthetists as a standard of care during rapid sequence induction. However, by using CP we may well be endangering more lives by causing airway problems than we are saving in the hope of preventing pulmonary aspiration. It is dangerous to consider CP to be an effective and reliable measure in reducing the risk of pulmonary aspiration and to become complacent about the many factors that contribute to regurgitation and aspiration. Ensuring optimal positioning and a rapid onset of anesthesia and muscle relaxation to decrease the risk of coughing, straining or regurgitation during the induction of anesthesia are likely more important in the prevention of pulmonary aspiration than CP.