, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 170-172
Date: 25 May 2008

Direct laryngoscopy and endotracheal intubation in the prone position following traumatic thoracic spine injury

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Abstract

Perioperative airway management in trauma victims presenting with penetrating thoracic spine injury poses a major challenge to the anesthesiologist. To avoid further neurological impairment it is essential to ensure maximal cervical and thoracic spine stability at the time of airway manipulation (e.g., direct laryngoscopy and endotracheal intubation). Airway management in the prone position additionally increases the incidence of cervical/thoracic spine injury, difficult ventilation, and difficult airway instrumentation. Although awake fiberoptic intubation of the trachea is considered the gold standard for airway instrumentation in patients with posterior thoracic/cervical trauma, this technique requires the patient’s cooperation, special equipment, and extensive training, all of which might be difficult to accomplish in emergency situations. We herein present the first reported case of an adult trauma patient who underwent direct laryngoscopy and endotracheal intubation under general anesthesia in the prone position. Although the prone position is not the standard position for airway instrumentation with direct laryngoscopy and endotracheal intubation under general anesthesia, our experience indicates that this technique is possible (and relatively easy to perform) and might be considered in an emergency situation.