Background: Techniques of positioning and holding neonatal face masks vary. Studies have shown that leak at the face mask is common and often substantial irrespective of operator experience.
Aims: (1) To identify a technique for face mask placement and hold which will minimise mask leak. (2) To investigate the effect of written instruction and demonstration of the identified technique on mask leak for two round face masks.
Method: Three experienced neonatologists compared methods of placing and holding face masks to minimise the leak for Fisher & Paykel 60 mm and Laerdal size 0/1 masks. 50 clinical staff gave positive pressure ventilation to a modified manikin designed to measure leak at the face mask. They were provided with written instructions on how to position and hold each mask and then received a demonstration. Face mask leak was measured after each teaching intervention.
Results: A technique of positioning and holding the face masks was identified which minimised leak. The mean (SD) mask leaks before instruction, after instruction and after demonstration were 55% (31), 49% (30), 33% (26) for the Laerdal mask and 57% (25), 47% (28), 32% (30) for the Fisher & Paykel mask. There was no significant difference in mask leak between the two masks. Written instruction alone reduced leak by 8.8% (CI 1.4% to 16.2%) for either mask; when combined with a demonstration mask leak was reduced by 24.1% (CI 16.4% to 31.8%).
Conclusion: Written instruction and demonstration of the identified optimal technique resulted in significantly reduced face mask leak.
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Competing interests: None.