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Br J Anaesth. 2005 May;94(5):683-6. Epub 2005 Feb 11.

Percutaneous transtracheal jet ventilation as a guide to tracheal intubation in severe upper airway obstruction from supraglottic oedema.

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Magill Department of Anaesthesia, Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup DA14 6LT, UK.


We report two cases of severe upper airway obstruction caused by supraglottic oedema secondary to adult epiglottitis and Ludwig's angina. In the former case, attempts to intubate with a direct laryngoscope failed but were successful once percutaneous transtracheal jet ventilation (PTJV) had been instituted. In the case with Ludwig's angina, PTJV was employed as a pre-emptive measure and the subsequent tracheal intubation with a direct laryngoscope was performed with unexpected ease. In both cases recognition of the glottic aperture was made feasible with PTJV by virtue of the fact that the high intra-tracheal pressure from PTJV appeared to lift up and open the glottis. The escape of gas under high pressure caused the oedematous edges of the glottis to flutter, which facilitated the identification of the glottic aperture. We believe that the PTJV should be considered in the emergency management of severe upper airway obstruction when this involves supraglottic oedema.

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