The history of the invention and development of the Laryngeal Mask in the East End of London during the years 1981-88 is briefly described. The concept evolved from home-made prototypes built from the Goldman Dental Mask through a complex series of one-off latex models culminating in a primitive factory-made silicone cuff in 1986. This work defined the design parameters necessary to reconcile the needs for safety, reliability and ease of insertion while at the same time exploring the limits to possible use. In early 1988 the final version was tested by the inventor who had by this time used the device in more than 7500 patients undergoing routine surgery. From this experience a number of important lessons were learned relating to safe and effective use, which are summarized in the inventor's Instruction Manual. The importance of referring to this volume before use is stressed.
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