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Clinical review: management of difficult airways

Olivier Langeron, Julien Amour, Benoît Vivien, Frédéric Aubrun
Critical Care: the Official Journal of the Critical Care Forum 2006, 10 (6): 243
17184555
Difficulties or failure in airway management are still important factors in morbidity and mortality related to anesthesia and intensive care. A patent and secure airway is essential to manage anesthetized or critically ill patients. Oxygenation maintenance during tracheal intubation is the cornerstone of difficult airway management and is always emphasized in guidelines. The occurrence of respiratory adverse events has decreased in claims for injuries due to inadequate airway management mainly at induction of anesthesia. Nevertheless, claim reports emphasize that airway emergencies, tracheal extubation and/or recovery of anesthesia phases are still associated with death or brain damage, indicating that additional educational support and management strategies to improve patient safety are required. The present brief review analyses specific problems of airway management related to difficult tracheal intubation and to difficult mask ventilation prediction. The review will focus on basic airway management including preoxygenation, and on some oxygenation and tracheal intubation techniques that may be performed to solve a difficult airway.

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