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Can J Anaesth. 1998 Jul;45(7):660-3.

Anaesthetic management of a child with Marshall-Smith syndrome.

Author information

  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology, UCL Medical School, Saint-Luc Hospital, Brussels, Belgium.



The Marshall-Smith Syndrome (MSS) is a rare disease characterized by orofacial dysmorphism, failure to thrive, accelerated osseous maturation and mental retardation. It has anaesthetic implications due to upper airway problems and possible atlanto-axial instability. We present the perioperative problems (difficult intubation, airway obstruction) encountered in a child with MSS who underwent several anaesthetics during his first two years of life.


At birth, the child presented with asphyxia due to obstructive apnoea. His trachea was, therefore, intubated immediately. The morphological diagnosis of MSS was confirmed by the pathognomonic radiological appearance of the bones (bone age was eight months at the age of four days). Upper airway difficulty was caused by functional problems at the level of the hypopharynx (inspiratory collapse at the level of the velum palatinum), and was solved by the use of a nasopharyngeal airway (NPA) during the induction of anaesthesia and early postoperative period.


The use of an NPA during both induction and recovery of anaesthesia may be particularly useful to prevent upper airway problems in children with MSS.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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