Equipment for the difficult airway in obstetric units in Germany

U M Stamer, A Messerschmidt, H Wulf, A Hoeft
Journal of Clinical Anesthesia 2000, 12 (2): 151-6

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To examine the availability of specialized equipment for the difficult airway management in obstetric units of German departments of anesthesiology.

DESIGN AND SETTING: An anonymous questionnaire survey was mailed to the directors of 993 German departments of anesthesiology. Completed replies were grouped by number of deliveries performed each year.

MAIN RESULTS: 55.5% of the hospitals responded. Data of 449 answers were evaluated for this investigation. A difficult airway cart was available in 99.3% of the departments. More detailed investigation revealed that different shaped laryngoscope blades (74.9% of the departments), laryngeal masks (91.0%), a fiberoptic bronchoscope (85.9%), and transtracheal puncture devices (59.9%) were available in the majority of the units. However, only a minority of the departments had these devices directly available in their obstetric operating rooms (OR; laryngeal masks 36.2%, fiberoptic bronchoscope 23.9%, transtracheal puncture set 22.0%). Larger units with more than 1,000 deliveries per year provided their equipment more often directly in the obstetric OR or the facility housing the obstetric unit than did smaller units with less than 1,000 deliveries per year (p< 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The survey of German departments of anesthesia revealed that specialized equipment for the difficult airway management often is not directly available in the obstetric OR. Anesthesiologists must familiarize themselves as to which difficult airway equipment is available in their unit and where it is stored.


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