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Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2005 Dec;19(4):641-59.

Complications of managing the airway.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Texas Medical School at Houston, USA.


The inability to secure the airway, with consequent failure of oxygenation and ventilation, is a life-threatening complication. Failure of oxygenation leads to hypoxia followed by brain damage, cardiovascular dysfunction, and finally death. Time is a very crucial factor in this context. Complications vary widely in severity; while some are dramatic and immediately life-threatening (unrecognized esophageal intubation), others can be severe and long-lasting (nerve injuries) or mild and short-lived (sore throat). To minimize injury to the patient, the anesthesiologist should examine the patient's airway carefully, identify any potential problems, devise a plan that involves the least risk for injury, and have a back-up plan immediately available. Each anesthesiology department should establish guidelines/algorithms specific to their institution. Unfortunately, a reliable test for detecting all patients at risk does not exist.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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