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Recognition and management of the difficult airway with special emphasis on the intubating LMA-Fastrach/whistle technique: a brief review with case reports.


Difficult tracheal intubation using direct laryngoscopy may occur ubiquitously across the spectrum of health care (1-8) and is reported to occur with an incidence of approximately 6% in anesthesiology (9); nonetheless, most tracheal intubations can be performed using direct laryngoscopy. Difficult intubation occurs when multiple laryngoscopies, maneuvers, and/or blades are used by an experienced airway practitioner (10). Laryngoscopic views of the airway frequently associated with difficulty were originally defined by Cormack and Lehane (11) and generally reveal only 1) the epiglottis, 2) the tip of the epiglottis, 3) the posterior cartilages, or 4) soft pharyngeal tissue (Table 1). Failed intubation occurs when the trachea cannot be intubated after multiple attempts. When intubation attempts are repeated beyond three or four times, the incidence of airway trauma and edema can increase and may ultimately create a critical airway event (1, 10) such as "cannot mask ventilate--cannot intubate" (CMVCI). If CMVCI occurs, rapid intervention using a supraglottic ventilation device is usually effective in restoring ventilation and oxygenation (1, 10). A number of supraglottic airways are now available (Table 2); however, an analysis of their individual use is beyond the scope of this report. Supraglottic ventilation devices will generally provide better ventilation and protection from aspiration than that provided by bag-valve-mask ventilation (10). If ventilation cannot be established using a supraglottic airway device, transtracheal jet ventilation (15) or a cricothyrotomy is the standard method to provide oxygenation and avoid disability or death (7). Ready availability of necessary adjunctive devices is paramount to prevent complications resulting from failed management of the airway (7).


Preanesthetic assessment of the airway is recommended to predict the presence of a difficult airway before beginning airway management. The Mallampati classification system was implemented as a method to predict difficult intubation. However, its reliability as a predictor of difficult intubation has been questioned (20), and it assesses only one aspect of the airway for difficulty (i.e., intraoral disproportion) (16) (Table 3). A comprehensive airway examination incorporates both quantitative and qualitative tests that together may increase the probability of predicting difficult intubation (21). One such system, the "6-D" method, was expanded by the author from a previously described method of airway assessment (18). It examines the airway for six separate signs that can be associated with difficult intubation: 1) disproportion, 2) distortion, 3) decreased thyromental distance, 4) decreased interincisor gap, 5) decreased range of motion, and 6) dental overbite. The 6-D assessment method helps in remembering the six signs because like the word difficult, each sign begins with the letter D (Table 4). The potential for a difficult intubation is generally related to the number of signs that are present. Regardless of the method of airway evaluation, it is important to understand that airway assessment is not infallible and can produce both false-negative and false-positive signs of difficult intubation.


Nonetheless, airway examination is beneficial in that it can alert practitioners to the presence of a potentially difficult intubation, thus allowing them either 1) to attempt intubation using a difficult-airway intubation technique from the outset (Table 5) or 2) to proceed using a standard direct laryngoscopy technique while simultaneously being prepared to apply an intubation rescue technique (Table 6) or an adjunctive ventilation technique (Table 2) should intubation or ventilation prove to be difficult. The choice of a difficult-airway intubation technique is dependent on the clinical situation and the practitioner's familiarity and skill in using any particular device. Not every difficult airway technique must be learned or mastered, but it is best to be familiar with more than one technique in order to increase the likelihood of success.

Intubation rescue techniques may assist with either an anticipated or unanticipated difficult intubation. Intubation rescue is used following a failed intubation attempt, provided that 1) no more than several laryngoscopic attempts have been made, 2) laryngoscopy has been attempted for <10 minutes, and 3) the patient's Sp[O.sub.2] can be maintained at >92% (1, 7, 10). If laryngoscopy has been attempted for >10 minutes or >3 times or the patient's Sp[O.sub.2] cannot be maintained at >92%, intubation attempts should be aborted and emergency ventilation using a Combitube, LMA, or other Food and Drug Administration-approved supraglottic airway device (Table 2) should be used until a definitive airway can be safely inserted using a different technique (1). If the clinical situation permits, the patient may be awakened and the surgical case postponed.

When a difficult airway is suspected, it is recommended to secure the airway with the patient awake (38), unless it is contraindicated (23). Various difficult-airway intubation techniques are currently available (Table 5), and most can be performed with the patient awake while receiving a combination of intravenous sedation and topical local anesthesia of the airway.


The intubating laryngeal mask airway (ILMA) is known as the LMA-Fastrach (LMA North America, San Diego, CA) in the USA and elsewhere as the ILMA. It was designed especially for ventilation and intubation of patients with a difficult airway (Figure 1). The ILMA is inserted orally to a depth where it rests upon the supraglottic laryngeal structures of the upper airway. A seal is produced when the mask is inflated, allowing the patient to either breathe spontaneously or be ventilated manually via the ILMA tube. The ILMA is unique in that it provides both a means for lung ventilation as well as a seamless bridge to tracheal intubation.


The Chandy maneuver (Figure 2) was developed by Dr. Chandy Verghese and significantly improves the effectiveness of the ILMA (25). It incorporates two maneuvers that improve lung ventilation and tracheal intubation using the ILMA. Part one of the Chandy maneuver facilitates positioning of the ILMA in the upper airway so that lung ventilation is maximized through the device. This is done by grasping the ILMA by the handle and moving it back and forth in the sagittal plane while observing the patient's tidal volume and/or the capnographic waveform (if ventilation is being controlled manually). However, if the patient is breathing spontaneously, an airway whistle (e.g., Patil intubation guide [Anesthesia Associates, San Marcos, CA] or Beck Airway Airflow Monitor [Great Plains Ballistics, Lubbock, TX]) can be attached to the proximal portion of the ILMA to optimize ventilation through it. The whistle will sound with each breath the patient takes. The ILMA is then moved slowly back and forth in the sagittal plane using part one of the Chandy maneuver until maximal whistling is attained. Maximal whistling indicates optimal positioning of the ILMA. The second part of the Chandy maneuver involves aligning the ILMA to facilitate smooth passage of the endotracheal tube (ETT) into the trachea.


A special Euromedical ETT is provided with the ILMA. The ETT has a longitudinal line, which should be oriented to face the patient's nose superiorly. Proper orientation of the longitudinal line causes the ETT to exit the ILMA at an angle that eases its passage into the trachea. The ETT also has a circumferential line at a distance from the distal tip of the ETT that is equal to the length of the ILMA from the proximal to the distal port. At the point where the circumferential line is advanced to the proximal port of the ILMA, the distal tip of the ETT will be in contact with the epiglottic elevator bar (which covers the distal port of the ILMA). The epiglottic elevator bar raises the epiglottis so that the ETT can enter the glottis unimpeded. Just before the distal tip of the ETT contacts the epiglottic elevator bar, the second part of the Chandy maneuver is performed. This involves lifting the handle of the ILMA at a 45[degrees] angle to the patient's chest. This helps align the trajectory of the ETT into the trachea inferiorly and usually facilitates smooth passage of the ETT into the trachea.

If the patient is breathing spontaneously, an airway whistle attached to the proximal end of the ETT will sound with each ventilation. As the tip of the ETT enters the trachea, the volume of the whistle increases. When the cuff of the ETT is inflated, the volume of the whistle will increase even more, heralding the sealing of the ETT within the trachea and securement of the patient's airway. Tracheal intubation should always be confirmed with an evidence-based method, using a carbon dioxide detector if the patient has a perfusing cardiac rhythm or a self-inflating bulb if the patient does not have a perfusing cardiac rhythm (39). Additionally, auscultation of bilateral breath sounds will confirm that the ETT is lying in a midtracheal position. The ILMA can then be removed over the ETT using the stabilizing rod (Figure 1) or left in place with the mask deflated until the trachea is extubated.


This article describes four patients who after preanesthetic assessment were suspected of having difficult-to-manage airways. Two of the patients were morbidly obese and two were thin. All four patients had an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status [greater than or equal to]3. The first three patients were receiving anesthesia care for surgical procedures, and the fourth patient was intubated emergently in the emergency department for acute respiratory failure. The three surgical patients had routine ASA monitors applied in the operating room. Patients #1 and #3 were also monitored using a PSA 4000 Patient State Analyzer (Physiometrix, Inc, N. Billerica, MA) and direct arterial blood pressure. Capnography was not available in the emergency department for patient #4; however, intubation was confirmed using a colorimetric carbon dioxide detector. All patients received supplemental oxygen, intravenous sedation, and topical local anesthesia of their airways before insertion of the ILMA. A Patil intubation guide (i.e., airway whistle) was used to confirm optimal positioning of the ILMA in each patient and to monitor advancement of the ETT through the ILMA (Figure 3). Three of the patients were intubated through the ILMA using intravenous sedation and topical local anesthesia of the airway. Patient #2 also received general inhalation anesthesia (i.e., sevoflurane) after insertion of the ILMA and prior to tracheal intubation. Tracheal intubation was confirmed in each patient using the presence of end-tidal carbon dioxide and auscultation of bilateral breath sounds.

Case #1

A 72-year-old white woman presented for left vertebral to carotid artery transposition and left carotid-axillary bypass surgery. She was 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm) and weighed 98 lb (44.5 kg) (body mass index [BMI] = 15.3 kg/[m.sup.2]). Previous medical history was significant for smoking, hypertension, vertebral-basilar transient ischemic attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, nocturnal use of oxygen, and right radical neck dissection with radiation 5 years previously. Medications included clonidine, amlodipine, and lisinopril. Vital signs were stable.

Her airway examination revealed neck asymmetry and laryngeal immobility. Mouth opening demonstrated a Mallampati class II airway, and neck range of motion appeared adequate (Figure 4). After receiving preoperative beta-blockers according to protocol, she was prepared for an awake laryngoscopic assessment and received incremental intravenous doses of midazolam (total dose 2 mg) and fentanyl (total dose 100 [micro]g). She gargled with 4% topical lidocaine and then tolerated oral insertion of a soft nasal airway coated with 5% lidocaine ointment over its internal and external surface (i.e., lidocaine lollipop). A right radial artery catheter was placed to closely monitor her cardiovascular response to laryngoscopy. An awake laryngoscopy was well tolerated but revealed only a Cormack and Lehane grade 4 view (Table 1) (11).


At this point, insertion of a #4 ILMA coated with a small amount of 5% lidocaine ointment and with a Patil intubation guide attached was well tolerated (Figure 5). Upon inflation of the ILMA mask, the Patil intubation guide (Figure 3) immediately began to produce whistling with inhalation and exhalation. The ILMA was manipulated in the airway using the Chandy maneuver (Figure 2) to optimally position it so as to produce the loudest volume of whistling. A #7 Euromedical ETT with the Patil intubation guide attached was easily inserted through the ILMA and advanced into the trachea (Figure 3). Whistling volume increased with passage of the ETT through the glottis and further increased after inflation of the ETT cuff. No coughing occurred with ETT insertion into the trachea; however, the patient's blood pressure rose from 140/50 to 170/70 mm Hg. The blood pressure returned to normal after administration of nicardipine 500 mg followed by esmolol 30 mg. The patient took deep breaths upon command throughout the intubation process. She was subsequently anesthetized with general anesthesia, and the case proceeded uneventfully. She was extubated awake shortly after discontinuation of the anesthetic and recovered without incident.


Case #2

A 63-year-old morbidly obese Hispanic woman with an ASA physical status of 3 presented for repair of a left femoral arteriovenous fistula/pseudoaneurysm. Previous medical history included end-stage renal disease, hypertension, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and use of nocturnal continuous positive airway pressure for airway support. Medications included omeprazole, warfarin (none for 24 hours), insulin, and diltiazem. Sp[O.sub.2] was 89% on room air and vital signs were stable. Laboratory results were within normal limits, with the exception of creatinine (5.1 mg/dL) and blood glucose by finger stick (164 mg/dL). Her height was 4 feet 5 inches (135 cm) and weight, 196 lb (89 kg) (BMI = 49.1 kg/[m.sup.2]). Airway examination revealed a Mallampati class IV; mouth opening <2 finger breadths; significant dental overbite; thyromental distance <2 finger breadths; and no extension at the atlanto-occipital joint.

She received preoperative beta-blockers according to protocol as well as tight glycemic control intraoperatively. Incremental intravenous 2-mg doses of midazolam were administered over 5 to 10 minutes until the patient accepted oral insertion of the ILMA. During the preintubation period, her oropharynx and airway were anesthetized with incremental doses of 2% Cetacaine spray (Cetylite Industries, Pennsauken, NJ). A #4 ILMA was inserted using the method described for patient #1. After establishing optimal ILMA positioning, the whistle was removed and the breathing circuit was attached to the ILMA, whereupon the patient breathed sevoflurane with 100% oxygen until a suitable end-tidal level was obtained. She was then intubated in a similar fashion as described for patient #1. Upon cessation of general anesthesia, she met criteria for extubation; however, she became somnolent shortly after extubation (Ramsay Sedation Scale score = 4) (40), for which she was treated with and responded well to flumazenil. Recovery was otherwise uneventful.

Case #3

A 53-year-old white man presented for right carotidsubclavian bypass angioplasty. Medications included atorvastatin, levothyroxine, atenolol, bupropion, and methylprednisolone SR. He weighed 150 lb (68 kg) and was 5 feet 9 inches tall (175 cm) (BMI = 22.1 kg/[m.sup.2]). His laboratory results were within normal limits and his vital signs were stable. His previous medical history was significant for hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, and smoking. He had a distant history of pharyngeal cancer, which was diagnosed and treated with surgery and radiation at age 12. A tissue flap on his anterior neck prevented palpation of any laryngeal anatomy, and there was essentially a straight line of tissue from one finger breadth posterior to the tip of the chin to the base of his neck. He had decreased neck range of motion; however, he demonstrated a Mallampati class II airway. He received preoperative beta-blockers according to protocol.

The patient was counseled for an awake laryngoscopy with intravenous sedation and topical local anesthesia of the airway. He was sedated with incremental doses of midazolam and fentanyl. He gargled 2% viscous lidocaine, and his oropharynx was sprayed with 2% Cetacaine. He tolerated oral insertion of a soft nasal trumpet coated with 5% lidocaine ointment over the inner and outer surfaces (i.e., lidocaine lollipop). He followed commands, opened his mouth, and tolerated insertion of a #3 Mac-Intosh laryngoscope blade. Only soft tissue with no recognizable airway anatomy was visible (i.e., Cormack and Lehane grade 4 laryngoscopic view [Table 1]). His only reaction to laryngoscopy was a slight increase in his ventilatory rate. His airway was then managed as described for patient #1. The case proceeded uneventfully, and he was extubated awake shortly after the procedure, recovering without incident.

Case #4

The anesthesia service was requested to perform an emergency tracheal intubation on a 33-year-old morbidly obese (5 feet 7 inches [170 cm], 465 lb [211 kg], BMI = 72.8 kg/[m.sup.2]) black woman in the emergency department. Her previous medical history was significant for asthma, congestive heart failure, stable cardiomegaly, hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, previous cerebrovascular accident, and use of supplemental oxygen with bilevel positive airway pressure respiratory support. She was chronically bedridden, was nonambulatory, and had pneumonia with acute respiratory failure. Because of carbon dioxide narcosis, she was arousable only to noxious stimuli (Ramsay scale = 5) (40). She was receiving oxygen by nonrebreathing mask. Her arterial blood gas revealed pH, 7.28; PC[O.sub.2], 72 mm Hg; P[O.sub.2], 67 mm Hg; arterial oxygen saturation, 92%; base deficit, +4; bicarbonate, 33 mEq/L. Her blood sugar was 119 mg/dL and Sp[O.sub.2] was 90%. Airway assessment was limited due to her supine position and critical condition. She was noted to have a large tongue, and her airway was assumed to be difficult because of her morbid obesity.

The decision was made to intubate her using an ILMA with spontaneous ventilation. A difficult-airway cart with additional devices was immediately available in case rescue ventilation or a cricothyrotomy was needed (1, 10). Her tidal volume was adequate, and her respiratory rate was >20 breaths/minute secondary to her elevated arterial carbon dioxide level. Oxygen and nebulized 4% lidocaine were administered by mask over a 15-minute period before airway management began. Glycopyrrolate 0.4 mg was administered for its antisialagogue effect to increase tissue contact of the topical lidocaine. Two doses of intravenous midazolam in 2-mg increments were administered over a period of several minutes just prior to insertion of a #5 ILMA.

Upon initial insertion of the ILMA, the patient reacted by coughing. The ILMA was removed, and supplemental 2% Cetacaine spray was administered orally along with an additional 2 mg of midazolam. After several minutes she tolerated reinsertion of the ILMA, and her airway was subsequently managed as described for patient #1. Advancement of the ETT into the trachea produced a large cough. Tracheal intubation was quickly confirmed using a colorimetric carbon dioxide detector, whereupon anesthesia was induced using etomidate 20 mg. She was then paralyzed with vecuronium and received a propofol infusion for postintubation management. Additionally, she was placed on a ventilator with controlled ventilation. She remained intubated for some time and eventually received a tracheostomy some days later. Her mental status eventually recovered to her usual preadmission level (Ramsay scale = 1 to 2) (40). She was eventually weaned from the ventilator and subsequently transferred to a rehabilitation hospital.


Three of these high-risk patients were intubated using intravenous sedation and topical local anesthesia of the airway while breathing spontaneously through the ILMA attached to a Patil intubation guide (4, 41). One patient (case #2) was administered sevoflurane via the ILMA prior to tracheal intubation. The use of the ILMA allowed for maintenance of optimal oxygenation and ventilation and provided a seamless bridge to tracheal intubation. Airway management using an "awake" technique was chosen because of the inherent safety associated with its use (22, 38).

The author's familiarity and skill using the ILMA was a key factor in selecting it for these patients suspected of having difficult-to-manage airways (38). Other techniques may have worked equally well (Table 5). The ILMA offered a thorough means of oxygenation and ventilation. Proper placement of the ILMA was facilitated by positioning it until maximal whistling was ascertained via the Chandy maneuver. Observation of an optimal capnographic waveform coupled with maximal tidal volume will also demonstrate proper positioning of the ILMA prior to insertion of the ETT. However, maximal volume of the whistle is simpler to produce and determine. Additionally, the operator's attention is less likely to be diverted away from the patient's airway, as may happen when attempting to simultaneously observe the capnograph and tidal volume. The safety of awake intubation using judicious sedation and topical anesthesia is recommended and well established (22, 38, 42). Anesthesia induction with muscle paralysis could have proven disastrous in the morbidly obese woman described in case #4. The "cannot mask ventilate--cannot intubate" situation has been previously reported in morbidly obese patients (7, 43).

This report of airway management in four patients suspected of having difficult-to-manage airways together with previous reports describing the use of the ILMA/whistle technique in both the prehospital environment (4) and the intensive care unit (41) suggests that this difficult-airway intubation technique may provide a viable option for "awake" tracheal intubation in virtually any location where airway management is performed. Additionally, this report demonstrates that the ILMA can be well tolerated in sedated patients who are breathing spontaneously and appropriately prepared for this method of tracheal intubation.

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From the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.

Corresponding author: James M. Rich, CRNA, MA, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, Baylor University Medical Center, 3500 Gaston Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75246 (e-mail:
Table 1. Cormack and Lehane's laryngeal grades of the airway *

Grade Visualized oral anatomy Potential intubation

1 Entire glottic opening Should facilitate an easy
 from the anterior to intubation
 posterior commissure

2 Just the posterior Normally not difficult to
 portion of glottis pass a styleted
 endotracheal tube through
 the laryngeal aperture

3a ([dagger]) Epiglottis only Intubation is difficult
 (epiglottis can be lifted but possible using a
 using a laryngoscope bougie introducer or
 blade) flexible fiberoptic scope

3b ([dagger]) Epiglottis only (but Intubation can be
 epiglottis cannot be difficult because
 lifted from the posterior insertion of a bougie
 pharynx using a introducer (e.g., gum
 laryngoscope blade) elastic bougie) may be
 impeded, which can
 directly affect the
 successful use of a
 bougie introducer or a
 flexible fiberoptic scope

4 ([dagger]) Only soft tissue, with no Difficult intubation,
 identifiable airway requiring advanced
 anatomy techniques to intubate
 the trachea

* From reference 11. For additional information on grades 1, 2, and 4,
see reference 12; for additional information on grade 3, see reference
13. A laryngeal grade is obtained by direct laryngoscopy using a

([dagger]) Tracheal intubation normally requires an advanced airway
technique beyond direct laryngoscopy.

Table 2. Adjunctive supraglottic ventilation devices *

Device classification Manufacturer

AMBU Not yet rated AMBU, Glen Burnie, MD

Cobra PLA Not yet rated Engineered Medical Systems,
 Indianapolis, IN

Combitube Class II-a Tyco-Healthcare-Nellcor,
 ([double dagger]) Pleasanton, CA

EasyTube Not yet rated Rusch, Research Triangle
 Park, NC

Intubating Not yet rated Mercury Medical, Clearwater, FL

King Not yet rated King Systems, Noblesville, IN

Laryngoseal Not yet rated Tyco-Healthcare-Nellcor,
Laryngeal Pleasanton, CA

LMA-Classic Class II-a LMA North America, San Diego, CA
 ([double dagger])

LMA-Fastrach Not yet rated LMA North America, San Diego, CA

* Based on references 1, 7, 14.

([dagger]) AHA/ILCOR indicates American Heart Association/International
Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. Devices are classified at the
AHA/ILCOR conferences that are held every 5 years. Classification is
based on review and discussion of research articles and case reports
from the peer-reviewed literature. Many devices have been introduced
since the last conference was held.

([double dagger]) Class II-a denotes a therapeutic option for which the
weight of evidence is in favor of its usefulness and efficacy.

Table 4. The 6-D method of airway assessment *

Sign of difficulty Description

1. Disproportion --Increased size of tongue in relation to
 pharyngeal size

2. Distortion --Airway swelling
 --Airway trauma (blunt or penetrating)
 --Tissue consolidation (e.g., secondary
 to radiation)
 --Neck mass
 --Neck hematoma
 --Neck abscess
 --Arthritic changes in the neck joints
 --Previous surgical airway

3. Decreased thyromental --Anterior larynx and decreased mandibular
 distance space

4. Decreased --Reduced mouth opening
 interincisor gap

5. Decreased range of --Limited head extension secondary to
 motion in any or all arthritis, diabetes, or other diseases
 of the joints of the --Previous neck radiation and/or radical
 airway (i.e., surgery
 atlanto-occipital --Neck contractures secondary to burns
 joint, or trauma
 joints, cervical
 spine); atlanto-
 occipital range of
 motion is critical
 for assuming the
 sniffing position

6. Dental overbite --Large angled teeth disrupting the
 alignment of the airway axes and
 possibly decreasing the interincisor gap

Sign of difficulty Quantitative or qualitative findings
 reported to be associated with difficulty

1. Disproportion --Mallampati class III or IV

2. Distortion --Possibly difficult to assess
 --Blunt or penetrating airway trauma
 --Tracheal deviation
 --Neck asymmetry
 --Voice changes
 --Subcutaneous emphysema (crepitus)
 --Laryngeal immobility
 --Nonpalpable thyroid cartilage
 --Nonpalpable cricoid cartilage

3. Decreased thyromental --Thyromental distance <7 cm (<3 finger
 distance breadths) measured from the superior
 aspect of the thyroid cartilage to the
 tip of the chin
 --Receding chin

4. Decreased --Distance between upper and lower
 interincisor gap incisors (i.e., interincisor gap) <4 cm
 (<2 finger breadths)
 --Mandibular condyle fracture
 --Rigid cervical spine collar

5. Decreased range of --Head extension <35[degrees]
 motion in any or all --Neck flexion <35[degrees]
 of the joints of the --Short, thick neck
 airway (i.e., --Cervical spine collar or cervical spine
 atlanto-occipital immobilization
 joints, cervical
 spine); atlanto-
 occipital range of
 motion is critical
 for assuming the
 sniffing position

6. Dental overbite --Dental overbite

Sign of difficulty Acceptable findings not usually
 associated with difficulty

1. Disproportion --Mallampati class I or II

2. Distortion --Midline trachea
 --No contractures of the neck
 --No surgical airway scar
 --Mobile laryngeal anatomy
 --Easily palpated thyroid cartilage
 --Easily palpated cricoid cartilage

3. Decreased thyromental --Thyromental distance [greater than or
 distance equal to] 7 cm (~3 finger breadths)
 --No receding chin

4. Decreased --Interinger gap [greater than or equal
 interincisor gap to] 4 cm (~2 breadts)

5. Decreased range of --Head extension <35[degrees]
 motion in any or all --Neck flexion <35[degrees]
 of the joints of the --Short, thick neck
 airway (i.e., --Cervical spine collar or cervical spine
 atlanto-occipital immobilization
 joints, cervical
 spine); atlanto-
 occipital range of
 motion is critical
 for assuming the
 sniffing position

5. Decreased range of --Head extension [greater than or equal
 motion in any or all to] 35[degrees] of atlanto-occipital
 of the joints of the extension
 airway (i.e., --Cervical spine flexion [greater than or
 atlanto-occipital equal to]35[degrees]
 joint, --Long, thin neck
 temporomandibular --No cervical spine collar or cervical
 joints, cervical spine immobilization
 spine); atlanto-
 occipital range of
 motion is critical
 for assuming the
 sniffing position

6. Dental overbite --No dental overbite

* Based on references 16-18, 21. The 6-D method of airway assessment
helps practitioners remember to assess for each of the six signs that
can be associated with a difficult intubation. Each sign begins with
the letter D like the word difficult. The potential for difficult
intubation is generally proportional to the number of signs observed.

Table 5. Techniques for difficult tracheal intubation

intubation technique Considerations/requirements

Awake laryngoscopic [+ or -] Judicious intravenous sedation (23)
intubation (22) [+ or -] Topical anesthesia (23)
 Gentle use of the laryngoscope

Awake blind [+ or -] Judicious intravenous sedation (23)
nasotracheal [+ or -] Topical anesthesia (23)
intubation (24) Spontaneous ventilation
 [+ or -] Vasoconstrictor (23)
 [+ or -] Patil intubation guide or Beck
 Airway Airflow Monitor (24)

Intubating laryngeal [+ or -] Judicious intravenous sedation (23)
mask airway in the [+ or -] Topical anesthesia (23)
awake patient Chandy maneuver (25)
 Spontaneous ventilation
 [+ or -] Patil intubation guide or Beck
 Airway Airflow Monitor

Intubating laryngeal Chandy maneuver (25)
mask airway in the Positive pressure ventilation
apneic patient

Retrograde "Can mask ventilate--cannot intubate"
intubation (26) situation
 [+ or -] Parker endotracheal tube
 [+ or -] Direct laryngoscopy

Indirect rigid [+ or -] Upsher, Wu, or Bullard
fiberoptic laryngoscope (27)
laryngoscopy (27)

Flexible fiberoptic [+ or -] General anesthesia
laryngoscopy (28) [+ or -] Judicious intravenous sedation (23)
 [+ or -] Topical anesthesia (23)
 [+ or -] Spontaneous ventilation (28)

Lightwand Should not be used in patients with
intubation (27) pharyngeal masses or anatomic
 abnormalities of the upper airway (27)

Videolaryngoscopic GlideScope (29)
devices (29)

Malleable Shikani Seeing Stylet
fiberoptic stylet [+ or -] Direct laryngoscopy (30)

Table 6. Intubation rescue techniques (^)

* External laryngeal manipulation (ELM) on the thyroid cartilage (31)

* Backward upward rightward pressure (BURP) on the thyroid cartilage

* Lever-tip (McCoy-type) laryngoscope (33)

* Head-elevated laryngoscopy position (HELP) (34, 36)

* Assessment for proper degree of muscle paralysis

* Changing the blade length (e.g., change #2 Miller to #3 Miller) (15)

* Changing the blade type (e.g., change curved to straight) (15)

* Changing the operator (one with more experience or better access)

* Bougie-assisted intubation (e.g., gum elastic bougie) (27, 37)

* Combined use of a lever-tip laryngoscope and bougie introducer for
patients requiring cervical spine precautions or the neutral head
position (33)

(^) Based on references 15, 27, 31-37.
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Title Annotation:laryngeal mask airway
Author:Rich, James M.
Publication:Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings
Article Type:Clinical report
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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