Awake supraglottic airway guided flexible bronchoscopic intubation in patients with anticipated difficult airways: a case series and narrative review

Wan Yen Lim, Patrick Wong
Korean Journal of Anesthesiology 2019 September 2
Awake intubation is indicated in difficult airways if attempts at securing the airway after induction of general anaesthesia may lead to harm due to potential difficulties or failure in those attempts. Conventional awake flexible bronchoscopic intubation is performed via the nasal, or less commonly, the oral route. Awake oral flexible bronchoscopic intubation (FBI) via a supraglottic airway device (SAD) is a less common technique and we term this 'supraglottic airway guided' FBI (SAGFBI). We describe ten cases with anticipated difficult airway in which awake SAGFBI was performed. After sedation and adequate airway topicalization, an Ambu AuragainTM SAD was inserted. A flexible bronchoscope, preloaded with a tracheal tube, was then inserted through the SAD. Finally, the tracheal tube was railroaded over the bronchoscope, through the SAD and into the trachea. The bronchoscope and the SAD were carefully removed, whilst keeping the tracheal tube in-situ. The technique was successful and well tolerated by all patients, and associated complications were rare. It also offered the advantages of performing an 'awake test insertion' of the SAD, an 'awake look' of the periglottic region and an 'awake test ventilation'. In certain patients, awake SAGFBI offers advantages over conventional awake FBI or awake videolaryngoscopy. More research is required to evaluate its success and failure rates, and identify associated complications. Its place in difficult airway algorithms may then be further established.


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