Reviewed and revised: 13 May 2012
This is a collection of my favourite online video resources to help even the greenest emergentologist ‘own the airway’. This post contains some truly awesome educational resources. Enjoy!
As well as the resources provided in this post, two great resources are the free videos on the TheAirwaySite.com and Richard Levitan’s absolutely mind-blowingly awesome AirwayCam site. He also gave a MUST SEE talk at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 2012 called “Anatomic Insights and Practice Changing Concepts” that has been reproduced as EMCrit Podcast 70 – Airway Management with Rich Levitan.
Also, don’t miss the new LITFL podcast series featuring RFDS’s very own airway Kung Fu master, Minh Le Cong: Own the Airway Audio. For the novice there is also the great EMBasic Airway Episode podcast by Steve Carroll.
First, buy yourself some time by adequately preoxygenating the patient.
- Check out the LITFL ‘Own the Oxygen!‘ guide
- EMCrit.org has a great page of resources on preoxygenation, reoxygenation and deoxygenation. The Scott Weingart approach to ‘delayed sequence intubation’ is described in Emcrit Podcast 40.
- Rob Orman at ERCAST looks at the recent Weingart and Levitan review of this topic in Explain it: Pre-oxygenation
Open and clear the airway
I’ll start off with the basics. Make sure you can use simple airway adjuncts, including the oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal airways.
Suction if you need to.
Open the airway and ventilate via a bag-valve-mask using high-flow oxygen.
Reuben Strayer’s take on bag-valve-mask ventilation is essential viewing:
If the patient is edentulous, then you might want to adjust the position of the mask like so:
Racine SX, et al (2010). Face mask ventilation in edentulous patients: a comparison of mandibular groove and lower lip placement. Anesthesiology, 112 (5), 1190-3 PMID: 20395823
Don’t forget you don’t need to hand ventilate if you’ve got a ventilator handy… EMCrit‘s Scott Weingart shows how:
Now let’s get Scott to talk us through the steps of laryngoscopy. Optimise the position of the patient before you start — this step is often overlooked in the emergency setting. Take Scott’s advice on making the patient’s earhole the same height as the jugular notch to heart.
Remember to use bimanual laryngoscopy.
Make sure you can tell the difference between the larynx and the esophagus!
Stylets and bougies
Bend your stylet to the correct shape. This video shows why it is easier if the stylet is ‘straight-to-the-cuff’, with a hockey stick bend near the cuff. Remember to insert the endotracheal tube from the right side of the patient’s mouth to maximise your view and provide optimal control of the position of the tip of the endotracheal tube:
If you can’t get the tube in first time you might want to recheck the patient’s positioning and consider reaching for a bougie. The bougie should be your best friend in the emergency department!
The new video takes bougie trouble shooting to a whole new dimension of sophistication:
Also check out Ernest Wang’s video demonstration of bougie-assisted intubation.
Still can’t get the tube in?
Reach for an LMA:
You can also use an LMA as part of a “Rapid Sequence Airway” (RSA) approach to improve peri-intubation oxygenation before laryngoscopy like Darren Braude does:
You can intubate through a standard LMA, but it is usually easier to use a dedicated intubating LMA as shown by the HQMedEd team:
OK… you’ve tried an LMA but the chest ain’t rising and the patient looks a little blue… Great, now you can’t intubate and can’t ventilate. While you wait for help to arrive, your options include percutaneous needle cricothrotomy as demonstrated by ndrew Heard:
This is why he uses the cannula that he uses:
This how to convert the cannula into a definitive airway using the Melker kit:
Instead of the needle you might want to use aknife. Here is an open cricothyroidotomy a la Scott Weingart:
Or the bougie-assisted approach shown by the HQMedEd team:
Darren Braude also does bougie-assisted crics:
Or you might like this scalpel-bougie-tube only approach from Andy Heard at Royal Perth Hospital (I know I do!):
Scott Weingart and Minh Le Cong have a great discussion of the merits of the needle cric vs an open bougie-assisted approach in EMCrit’s Podcast 053 — Needle vs Knife: Part 1. There is also this video of Ernest Wang’s approach to the emergency cricothyrotomy.
Some cric kits are so quick and easy they don’t even need commentary!
Laryngoscope doesn’t work!
But, what if all the laryngoscopes in the hospital aren’t working? You could resort to the old spoon and torch technique I’ve described previously, or my personal favourite ‘blind digital intubation’:
Rich JM. Successful blind digital intubation with a bougie introducer in a patient with an unexpected difficult airway. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2008 Oct;21(4):397-9. PMCID: PMC2566913
Here is how Rich describes the technique:
Pentax video laryngoscope
Or why not just cheat and use the Pentax video laryngoscope they’ve got in my old department:
There is a way to avoid all this ‘can’t intubate, can’t ventilate’ messiness of course. If the patient isn’t crashing, but needs intubation and you think it might be difficult, then awake intubation of the a spontaneously breathing patient is the way to go. First up is Scott Weingart’s demonstration (check out the accompanying podcast here):
And don’t forget Dr Michael Baillin’s entertaining demonstration of “auto” awake fiberoptic intubation:
Reuben Strayer puts it all together!
To finish, Reuben Strayer, from Emergency Medicine Updates, brings it all together in his screencast lecture on Advanced Airway Management for the Emergency Physician. Also, check out his Emergency Department Intubation Checklist.
But wait, there’s an encore — Reuben also has a great 12 minute screencast on pediatric intubation: