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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2011 Nov;55(10):1155-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2011.02518.x. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Ultrasonography in the management of the airway.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Operating Theatre Services, Center of Head and Orthopaedics, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


In this study, it is described how to use ultrasonography (US) for real-time imaging of the airway from the mouth, over pharynx, larynx, and trachea to the peripheral alveoli, and how to use this in airway management. US has several advantages for imaging of the airway - it is safe, quick, repeatable, portable, widely available, and it must be used dynamically for maximum benefit in airway management, in direct conjunction with the airway management, i.e. immediately before, during, and after airway interventions. US can be used for direct observation of whether the tube enters the trachea or the esophagus by placing the ultrasound probe transversely on the neck at the level of the suprasternal notch during intubation, thus confirming intubation without the need for ventilation or circulation. US can be applied before anesthesia induction and diagnose several conditions that affect airway management, but it remains to be determined in which kind of patients the predictive value of such an examination is high enough to recommend this as a routine approach to airway management planning. US can identify the croicothyroid membrane prior to management of a difficult airway, can confirm ventilation by observing lung sliding bilaterally and should be the first diagnostic approach when a pneumothorax is suspected intraoperatively or during initial trauma-evaluation. US can improve percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy by identifying the correct tracheal-ring interspace, avoiding blood vessels and determining the depth from the skin to the tracheal wall.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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