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Br J Anaesth. 2012 Apr;108(4):612-4. doi: 10.1093/bja/aer494. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Use of sugammadex in a 'can't intubate, can't ventilate' situation.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford GU2 7XX, UK.


A 78-yr-old woman presented for a panendoscopy to investigate dysphonia and dysphagia. Intubation was anticipated to be difficult but possible, and mask ventilation was anticipated to be possible. After induction of anaesthesia and after three attempts at intubation, a 'can't intubate, can ventilate' situation deteriorated to a 'can't intubate, can't ventilate' (CICV) situation. Rocuronium-induced neuromuscular block was successfully reversed with sugammadex, as evidenced by the restoration of diaphragmatic movement, the ability of the patient to move her limbs, and the presence of a train-of-four nerve stimulation with no fade; however, ventilation was still not possible. A cricothyroid puncture using a Ravussin needle was performed successfully to provide emergency oxygenation. A tracheostomy was performed to allow the panendoscopy. CICV situations are rare anaesthetic emergencies. While sugammadex can be relied upon to reverse rocuronium-induced neuromuscular block, it should not be relied upon to rescue all CICV events, especially where airway instrumentation has led to airway swelling. The availability of sugammadex does not obviate the need for emergency tracheal access in the event of failed oxygenation. The presence of head and neck pathology should lead to the consideration of securing the airway awake.

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