Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 222–228 | Cite as

A brief history of tracheostomy and tracheal intubation, from the Bronze Age to the Space Age

  • Peter SzmukEmail author
  • Tiberiu Ezri
  • Shmuel Evron
  • Yehudah Roth
  • Jeffrey Katz



To present a concise history of tracheostomy and tracheal intubation for the approximately forty centuries from their earliest description around 2000 BC until the middle of the twentieth century, at which time a proliferation of advances marked the beginning of the modern era of anesthesiology.

Data sources

Review of the literature.


The colorful and checkered past of tracheostomy and tracheal intubation informs contemporary understanding of these procedures. Often, the decision whether to perform a life-saving tracheostomy or tracheal intubation has been as important as the technical ability to perform it. The dawn of modern airway management owes its existence to the historical development of increasingly effective airway devices and to regular contributions of research into the pathophysiology of the upper airway.


Tracheal intubation Tracheostomy History 



We would like to thank Dr. David Zuck, MB, ChB, FRCA, DA, DHMSA, retired consultant anesthetist, past President of the British History of Anaesthesia Society, and an honorary member of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland; and Dr. Henry Hadad, Chief of Anesthesia at the English Hospital, Nazareth, Israel, for the invaluable information they provided to help us write this brief review. We also thank Camille Lloyd, PhD, and Liza Farrow-Gillespie for editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Szmuk
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Tiberiu Ezri
    • 2
    • 3
  • Shmuel Evron
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yehudah Roth
    • 4
  • Jeffrey Katz
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Children’s Medical Center at DallasDallasUSA
  2. 2.Members Outcome Research ConsortiumClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnesthesiaWolfson Medical Center, Affiliated to Tel Aviv UniversityHolonIsrael
  4. 4.Department of OtolaryngologyWolfson Medical Center, Affiliated to Tel Aviv UniversityHolonIsrael
  5. 5.Department of AnesthesiologyUniversity of Texas Medical School at HoustonHoustonUSA

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