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Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2001 Apr;14(2):197-209.

New equipment and techniques for airway management in trauma.

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Case Western Reserve University, Department of Anesthesiology, MetroHealth Medical Center, 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Cleveland, Ohio 44109-1998, USA.


A patent, unobstructed airway is fundamental in the care of the trauma patient, and is most often obtained by placing a cuffed tube in the trachea. The presence of shock, respiratory distress, a full stomach, maxillofacial trauma, neck hematoma, laryngeal disruption, cervical spine instability, and head injury all combine to increase tracheal intubation difficulty in the trauma patient. Complications resulting from intubation difficulties include brain injury, aspiration, trauma to the airway, and death. The use of devices such as the gum-elastic bougie, McCoy laryngoscope, flexible and rigid fiberscopes, intubating laryngeal mask, light wand, and techniques such as rapid-sequence intubation, manual in-line axial stabilization, retrograde intubation, and cricothyroidotomy, enhance the ability to obtain a definitive airway safely. The management of the failed airway includes calling for assistance, optimal two-person bag-mask ventilation, and the use of the laryngeal mask airway, Combitube, or surgical airway. The simulation of airway management using realistic simulator tools (e.g. full-scale simulators, virtual reality airway simulators) is a promising modality for teaching physicians and advanced life support personnel emergency airway management skills.

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