Background: Proper sealing of laryngeal mask airways (LMAs) is critical for airway management in clinical use. A good understanding of the LMA sealing mechanism provides a scientific foundation to improve the sealing of LMAs to reduce the incidence of adverse events. However, no existing methods provide a systematic study on the LMA sealing mechanics.
Methods: Computer-aided 3D models are established to visualize LMA – pharynx interactions directly. The finite element analysis (FEA) is adopted to study the LMA sealing mechanics. Results: Two case studies are provided in the paper. The LMA is loaded with a low cuff pressure (CP) (9 mmHg) to investigate the cause of leaking in Case I, and with a high CP (45 mmHg) to detect the critical points of high mucosal pressure in Case II. The established 3D models provide initiative visualization of the sealing situations. The visualization results are verified by pressure distribution along the contacting surface generated from FEA as the quantitative study.
Conclusions: Compared with the existing methods, the proposed method does not introduce additional cost, and can provide globe monitoring on the LMA and a comprehensive understanding of sealing mechanics in all areas. The findings on the sealing mechanism and corresponding suggestions for clinic use of LMAs and LMA design have also been presented in the paper.