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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2004 Mar;48(3):350-4.

Anaesthesiological airway management in Denmark: assessment, equipment and documentation.

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Department of Anaesthesia, The Abdominal Centre, Section 2043, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.



Failed intubation remains one cause of anaesthesia-related morbidity and mortality. In a recent survey in Denmark, 20% of respondents reported preventable mishaps in airway management.


Assessment of the airway, and its documentation, as well as the availability of various equipment to manage a difficult airway, and the existence of a failed intubation plan were surveyed by mailing a questionnaire to the clinical directors of all 69 anaesthesia departments in Denmark.


Fifty-six departments (81%) returned the questionnaire. Pre-operative airway evaluation is performed in 90% of the departments. The tests included the mouth-opening test (77%), Mallampati score (48%), lower jaw protrusion (34%), neck mobility (63%), the measurement of the thyromental (11%) and sternomental distance (4%). The result of the tests are documented by 38% of the departments in the anaesthetic chart (96%), in the record (54%), on a card given to the patient (23%), in a letter sent to the patient's general practitioner (2%) or in a database (13%). The patients are personally informed in 82% of the departments. Only 54% of the departments have a failed intubation plan readily available.


The preoperative assessment of the airways and its documentation is still unsatisfactory, as is communicating with the patient after a case of a difficult/impossible intubation. The adoption of internationally recognized recommendations might improve airway management and teaching to the best standard possible in the already well-equipped Danish anaesthetic departments.

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