Features  |   September 2013
Difficult Airway:Devices Don’t Manage Airways – Airway Managers Do
Article Information
Airway Management / Features
Features   |   September 2013
Difficult Airway:Devices Don’t Manage Airways – Airway Managers Do
ASA Monitor 09 2013, Vol.77, 20-22.
ASA Monitor 09 2013, Vol.77, 20-22.
A patient presents for elective surgery with the following letter:
We have new practice guidelines for management of the difficult airway,1  but are we in agreement about to whom these guidelines apply? The above patient presents with a “Difficult Airway Letter,” but was his laryngoscopy “difficult,” or did it fail, since the larynx was not seen? Tracheal intubation was successful, but was this the result of skill or luck? Was this a “difficult airway” or a lucky patient?
After the introduction of the Miller and Macintosh laryngoscopy blades, advances in airway management stagnated for nearly three decades. We now have a variety of supraglottic devices that may avoid tracheal intubation, and several optical devices that make use of coherent fiberoptic bundles, prisms or video chips allowing us to see previously concealed structures. It is important that we make the appropriate adjustments in the terminology we use to describe what we do. Clear communication will reduce the probability of others repeating nonproductive strategies or subjecting patients to uncomfortable techniques that may not enhance their safety.
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