A comparison of supraglottic airway devices versus endotracheal intubation for use in rabbit anaesthesia



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PICO question

In domestic rabbits undergoing anaesthesia, how does the use of supraglottic airway devices compare to endotracheal intubation for ease of use in achieving a patent airway and maintaining a stable anaesthesia?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Five papers were reviewed to answer this clinical question including four randomised controlled trials, one of which was a randomised crossover trial and one peer-reviewed conference proceeding

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

There is evidence to support that supraglottic devices were easier and faster to insert than endotracheal tubes and were used effectively to achieve and maintain a patent airway and anaesthesia. They were however, more easily displaced and took up more space in the oral cavity. Evidence also supports endotracheal intubation can be used to effectively achieve a patent airway and maintain a stable anaesthesia however, can result in more damage to tracheal mucosa when attempted blindly and required higher doses of induction drugs to use


Based on current available evidence, endotracheal intubation is an excellent option for maintaining a patent airway and anaesthesia in rabbit patients as it is a tried and tested method, however, can cause tracheal damage if conducted blindly. Supraglottic airways devices can be used as an alternative where endotracheal intubation is unsuccessful. They can also be used where speed of obtaining a patent airway is imperative such as in an emergency as they may be easier and faster to apply, especially in inexperienced practitioners without the necessary equipment for safe endotracheal intubation. Supraglottic devices are unsuitable for procedures that require access to the oral cavity and / or patient movement, due to the size and easier loss of seal during movement potentiating risk of aspiration. Both supraglottic devices and endotracheal intubation are superior to face masks which evidence shows have more leakage, dead space and increased risk of hypercapnia


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Open Access Peer Reviewed


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Bateman, L., Ludders, J.W., Gleed, R.D. & Erb, H.N. (2005). Comparison between facemask and laryngeal mask airway in rabbits during isoflurane anesthesia. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 32(5), 280–288. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-2995.2005.00169.x" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-2995.2005.00169.x

Benito, S., Hadley, S., Camprubí-Camprubí, M. & Sanchez-De-toledo, J. (2021). Blind Endotracheal Intubation in Neonatal Rabbits. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 168. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3791/61874" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.3791/61874

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Crotaz, I.R. (2010). Initial feasibility investigation of the v-gel® airway: an anatomically designed supraglottic airway device for use in companion animal veterinary anaesthesia. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 37(6), 579–580. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-2995.2010.00566.x" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-2995.2010.00566.x

Crotaz, I.R. (2013). An observational clinical study in cats and rabbits of an anatomically designed supraglottic airway device for use in companion animal veterinary anaesthesia. Veterinary Record. 172(23), 606–606. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.100668" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.100668

Cruz, M.L., Sacchi, T., Luna, S.P.L., Braz, J.R.C. & Cassu, R.N. (2000). Use of a laryngeal mask for airway maintenance during inhalation anaesthesia in rabbits. Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. 27(2), 115–116. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-2995.2000.00018-5.x" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1467-2995.2000.00018-5.x

Engbers, S., Larkin, A., Rousset, N., Prebble, M., Jonnalagadda, M., Knight, C.G. & Pang, D.S.J. (2017). Comparison of a Supraglottic Airway Device (v-gel®) with Blind Orotracheal Intubation in Rabbits. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 4, 49–49. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2017.00049" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2017.00049

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Thompson, K.L., Meier, T.R. & Scholz, J.A. (2017). Endotracheal Intubation of Rabbits Using a Polypropylene Guide Catheter. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 129. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3791/56369" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.3791/56369

Toman, H., Erbas, M., Sahin, H., Kiraz, H.A., Uzun, M. & Ovali, M.A. (2015). Comparison of the effects of various airway devices on hemodynamic response and QTc interval in rabbits under general anesthesia. Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing. 29, 727–732. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10877-015-9659-x" target="_blank">https://doi.org/10.1007/s10877-015-9659-x

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Vol. 7 No. 3 (2022): The third issue of 2022

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /