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Anesth Analg. 2002 Mar;94(3):732-6; table of contents.

Morbid obesity and tracheal intubation.

Author information

  • 1Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94303, USA. Jbrodsky@leland.stanford.edu.

Abstract

The tracheas of obese patients may be more difficult to intubate than those of normal-weight patients. We studied 100 morbidly obese patients (body mass index >40 kg/m(2)) to identify which factors complicate direct laryngoscopy and tracheal intubation. Preoperative measurements (height, weight, neck circumference, width of mouth opening, sternomental distance, and thyromental distance) and Mallampati score were recorded. The view during direct laryngoscopy was graded, and the number of attempts at tracheal intubation was recorded. Neither absolute obesity nor body mass index was associated with intubation difficulties. Large neck circumference and high Mallampati score were the only predictors of potential intubation problems. Because in all but one patient the trachea was intubated successfully by direct laryngoscopy, the neck circumference that requires an intervention such as fiberoptic bronchoscopy to establish an airway remains unknown. We conclude that obesity alone is not predictive of tracheal intubation difficulties.

IMPLICATIONS:

In 100 morbidly obese patients, neither obesity nor body mass index predicted problems with tracheal intubation. However, a high Mallampati score (greater-than-or-equal to 3) and large neck circumference may increase the potential for difficult laryngoscopy and intubation.

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PMID:
11867407
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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