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Paediatr Anaesth. 2009 Jul;19 Suppl 1:66-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2009.02996.x.

Pediatric transtracheal and cricothyrotomy airway devices for emergency use: which are appropriate for infants and children?

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Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, Division of Pediatric Anesthesia, The MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Cricothyrotomy or insertion of a transtracheal device is a life-saving maneuver that may be performed on an emergent or semi-elective basis as a means of bypassing an obstructed upper airway. A surgeon is trained to perform this life-saving procedure whereas most anesthesiologists are not facile with the scalpel. It is for this reason that many percutaneous devices have been developed for use by surgeons and nonsurgeons alike. Unfortunately, the majority of such devices are designed for use in adults and/or teenagers but are not appropriate for neonates and infants. The unique anatomy of the infant larynx, the small size of the cricothyroid membrane, and the technical difficulty of locating the correct anatomical structures make the use of most of these devices impractical if not outright dangerous in neonates and infants. This paper will review many (but not all) of the available devices, associated literature, pitfalls and dangers. It is emphasized that each clinician should become familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of these devices and obtain training with simulators or animal models. A strategy for management of the 'cannot ventilate, cannot oxygenate, cannot intubate' situation should be developed with age and size appropriate equipment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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