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Br J Anaesth. 1998 Feb;80(2):140-6.

Preoperative assessment for difficult intubation in general and ENT surgery: predictive value of a clinical multivariate risk index.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Critical Care, University Hospital of Poitiers, France.


Several clinical multifactorial indexes have been described for predicting difficult laryngoscopy or intubation, or both, mostly in general surgery, and less frequently in ENT surgery. The objective of this study was to develop and validate a single clinical index for prediction of difficulty in tracheal intubation in both ENT and general surgery. We studied a population of 1200 consecutive ENT and general surgical patients. Clinical criteria were tested using univariate and multivariate analysis. Difficult intubation was defined as requiring unusual techniques. Logistic regression identified seven criteria as independent predictors of difficult tracheal intubation; previous history of difficult intubation; pathologies associated with difficult intubation; clinical symptoms of pathological airway; inter-incisor gap and mandible luxation; thyromental distance; head and neck movement; and Mallampati's modified test. Point values were assigned to each of these factors in proportion to regression coefficients representing the relative weight of each predictive intubation difficulty factor, the sum comprising the score. The best predictive threshold was chosen using a receiver operating characteristic curve. We then prospectively studied and validated the score in a population of 1090 consecutive ENT and general surgery patients. The sensitivity and specificity of the predictions were 94% and 96% in general surgery, 90% and 93% in non-cancer ENT surgery, and 92% and 66% in ENT cancer surgery, respectively.

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