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Ann Fr Anesth Reanim. 1992;11(3):388-91.

[Tracheal intubation in patients with cervical spine injuries using a fiber optic laryngoscope].

[Article in French]

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Département d'Anesthésie-Réanimation, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris.


Eleven patients, with a cervical spine injury and scheduled for elective cervical spine fusion at least 48 h after their initial trauma, were intubated using a new fiberoptic laryngoscope (Bullard). This technique uses either a semi-rigid guide independent of the laryngoscope blade, or a rigid one attached to the blade. The cervical spine was immobilized with either a collar or a halo. General anaesthesia was carried out with thiopentone, fentanyl and vecuronium bromide. Orotracheal intubation was successful at the first attempts in 10 out of the 11 patients. No mobilization of the cervical spine occurred. In the first six patients, the semi-rigid guide was used, and the rigid one in the remaining five. The anaesthetist who carried out the intubations was always the same. Using the rigid guide was easier than the semi-rigid one. This is confirmed by the time required, 44 +/- 22 sec for the rigid guide, and 97 +/- 92 sec for the semi-rigid one. In the patient in whom this technique failed at the first attempt, endotracheal intubation was carried out by the nasal route and controlled by the fiberoptic laryngoscope. This technique enables a rapid and easy orotracheal intubation in trauma patients with an immobilized cervical spine, but careful training is necessary.

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