Intubation of the Neurologically Injured Patient

Joshua Bucher, Alex Koyfman
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2015, 49 (6): 920-7

BACKGROUND: Intubation of the neurologically injured patient is a critical procedure that must be done in a manner to prevent further neurologic injury. Although many different medications and techniques have been used to meet specific needs, there is little to no evidence to support many claims.

OBJECTIVE: To review the literature regarding important topics relating to intubating patients with neurologic injury.

DISCUSSION: Airway management requires ideal preoxygenation and airway maneuvers to minimize manipulation of the larynx and to maximize first-pass success. There is no evidence that lidocaine pretreatment decreases intracerebral pressure (ICP). Fentanyl can be used to help blunt the hemodynamic response to intubation. Esmolol is another medication that can blunt the hemodynamic response. Ketamine can be used and is possibly the ideal agent, having a neutral hemodynamic profile. A prefasciculation dose for neuromuscular blockade has not been shown to have any effect on ICP.

CONCLUSIONS: Ideal intubation conditions should be obtained through the use of airway manipulation techniques and appropriate medication choice for rapid sequence intubation in patients who are neurologically injured.

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