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Anaesthesia. 1999 Jul;54(7):670-4.

Anterior mediastinal masses: an anaesthetic challenge.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore 169608.


A patient with a large anterior mediastinal mass with minimal respiratory symptoms presented for a diagnostic biopsy of the mass. A pre-operative thoracic computed tomographic scan demonstrated narrowing of the distal trachea, and right and left main stem bronchi. An awake intubation was done. Thiopentone and muscle relaxant were given and surgery commenced. High airway pressure developed and ventilation became difficult, although oxygenation remained satisfactory throughout. Anaesthetic implications are discussed. We recommend that patients with more than 50% obstruction of the airway at the level of the lower trachea and main bronchi have their femoral vessels cannulated in readiness for cardiopulmonary bypass.

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