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Indian J Anaesth. 2015 Dec;59(12):801-6. doi: 10.4103/0019-5049.171571.

Current practice of difficult airway management: A survey.

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Department of Anaesthesia, BMH, Calicut, Kerala, India.
Department of Anaesthesia, Government Medical College, Calicut, Kerala, India.



Difficult airway (DA) management depends on both training and actual usage of the various approaches in the event of difficulty. The aim of the study was to assess how well the anaesthesiologists are equipped to deal with DA situations. The current practice preference of DA management was also assessed.


A questionnaire was distributed in a continuing medical education (CME) programme dedicated to DA and responses were noted and analysed, using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 18.


The response rate was 73%. Airway assessment was performed by majority. Sixty eight percent consultants and 47% residents were well aware of the American Society of Anesthesiologists' DA algorithm. 67% consultants and 65% residents attended at least one CME on DA in the previous 5 years. There was an overall deficiency of video laryngoscopes, retrograde intubation and cricothyrotomy sets. Most of the respondents were comfortable in using supraglottic airway devices (SGADs). In anticipated DA, the preferred choice of management for junior doctors was attempting conventional method once and awake fibreoptic bronchoscopy (FOB) for the experienced. In unanticipated DA, most of the residents and consultants opted for SGAD. Extubation strategy was similar for both. Thirty four percent of respondents experienced a 'cannot intubate-cannot ventilate' situation at least once.


Our survey showed that most respondents performed routine pre-operative airway assessment. A good armamentarium of airway gadgets should be made available in hospitals. Further training in techniques like video laryngoscopy, FOB or cricothyrotomy are essential.


Airway management; difficult airway; survey

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