How To Open The Airway

How to open the airway is an essential skill that every health provider should know. Of all the airway skills, it’s the easiest to master and the most likely to save lives in respiratory distress and failure. This article details recognizing airway obstruction, techniques to open the airway, and insertion of Read More …

To Open The Airway, Optimally Position The Head and Neck

Discussion of how to open an airway using lateral neck X-rays to demonstrate how positioning the head and neck can either open or obstruct the airway. Read More …

Preventing Airway Emergencies

I’m in Egypt at the 35th International Conference Egyptian Anesthesia 2019. I was given the great honor of presenting my article on the 10 Rules For Approaching Difficult Intubation: Always Prepare For Failure. Preparation, Decision Making, Teamwork and Communication are key to preventing airway emergencies. Read More …

Pediatric Airway Risks: Inefficient Mechanics of Breathing

In many ways pediatric anatomy and physiology predisposes a child to respiratory distress and respiratory failure. Inefficient mechanics of breathing is one major risk factor for infants and young children. This article discusses the ways the anatomy of a child creates inefficient mechanics of breathing and predisposes to respiratory distress and failure. Read More …

PostObstructive Pulmonary Edema

Patients with postobstructive pulmonary edema (or P.O.P.E.) develop sudden, unexpected and potentially life-threatening pulmonary edema after relief of airway obstruction.  It can be mild or severe. My first experience with it was in 1983. The Case In 1983, we didn’t have pulse oximetry, end-tidal carbon dioxide monitoring or even automated Read More …

Anatomic Dead Space Affects Hypoventilation

Having a tidal volume close to, or smaller than the patient’s dead space can lead to significant hypercarbia, hypoxia, and respiratory failure. This article discusses the concept of dead space and it’s clinical use in recognizing hypoventilation and preventing hypoxia and hypercarbia. Read More …

Difficult Intubation In A Newborn

The unanticipated difficult neonatal intubation in L&D greatly complicates neonatal resuscitation. This discussion highlights the approach to difficult ventilation & intubation in the newborn. #FOAMED Read More …

Announcing My New Book: Pediatric Airway Management: A Step-by-Step Guide

At long last, after two years of writing (and rewriting),  illustrating, and  filming  on-line videos, I’m excited to announce the publication of my new book Pediatric Airway Management: A Step-by-Step Guide. Anyone who rarely cares for children tends to be anxious when faced with a small child’s airway. This is true even if they are comfortable with adult airway management.

My goal for this book is to demystify basic pediatric airway management. I want to give you the skills you need to recognize when a child is in trouble and act quickly to safeguard that child, including helping them breathe if necessary. My sincere wish is that this new book helps in the care of our littlest patients, no matter where they are. Read More …

Intubation During Cardiac Resuscitation

Intubating patients during cardiac resuscitation is often challenging because of the circumstances surrounding the intubation. Excitement and apprehension accompany this life saving effort. In addition, The patient is often in a less than optimal position while chest compressions are in progress. You usually find the patient in one of two awkward positions: on the ground or in a bed. This article discusses techniques to better manage intubation during cardiac resuscitation, especially with the patient in an awkward position. Read More …

Not All Airway Emergencies Need Intubation

An emergency department physician I met the other day shared with me an experience from her hospital  that offers a good example of the fact that there are many different ways of managing an airway emergency in a child that don’t involve intubation. Medical management can sometimes avoid some of the risks of losing the airway that intubation might impose. Read More …

Remember That Respiratory Failure Is Not Always Due to Lung Failure

While assisting ventilation and protecting the airway are first priorities to stabilize a patient, treating the cause of the respiratory failure may require more than just ventilation and/or intubation. In fact, treating the cause can sometimes help you avoid the progression of respiratory distress to respiratory failure. If you don’t consider a potential problem or cause, you’re not going to be able to diagnosis it. This is a case of respiratory failure caused by hypovolemic shock and hypoglycemia in a child. Read More …

Exhaling During Manual Ventilation Is As Important As Inhaling

One of my readers recently asked a very important question about ventilating a patient with a bag-valve-mask device: “Is there an outlet for the expired air of the patient?” The answer is yes. When ventilating a patient we are concentrating, and rightfully so, on watching the lungs expand and verifying that we hear breath sounds. It is just as important to verify that your patient can exhale. All ventilation devices have a built in pressure relief valve, also called a pop-off valve, which allows you to balance the force needed to expand the lungs with the ability to the patient to passively exhale. Failure to allow exhalation can lead to patient injury from barotrauma. Read More …

Communication In A Crisis: A Case of Respiratory Depression In A Child:

When I’m teaching airway management to my Perioperative/OR nurses, I often recount the story of management of a young child’s postoperative respiratory depression. In addition to illustrating the importance of evaluating ventilation in addition to oxygenation, this case shows how good communication makes management of a critical event more effective. Read More …

Airway Emergency: Start With The Basics of Airway Management

A case of “can’t intubate- can’t ventilate is discussed which illustrates the importance of always using good techniques of basic airway management. Read More …

Intubation With Airway Bleeding and Massive Emesis

During intubation, any liquid in the mouth that obscures the view of larynx not only hinders visualization, it risks aspiration. We’re used to being able to rapidly suction the mouth clear or secretions, blood, or vomit and then have a clear view of the larynx. But sometimes, either because of continued profuse bleeding or massive emesis, fluid continues to accumulate while we’re watching. How can you manage this situation and successfully intubate? This article discusses two prior cases and offers suggestions on intubation when massive emesis or blood interfere with visualization. Read More …

Difference in Manual Ventilation: Self-Inflating Ventilation Bag vs. a Free Flow Inflating Bag

Ventilating with a bag-valve-mask device requires a good mask seal against the face in order to generate the pressure to inflate the lungs. But it also requires knowledge of how to effectively use the ventilation device to deliver a breath. This article discusses the difference in the use of a self-filling ventilation bag and a free-flow ventilation bag. Read More …

Intubation: Step By Step

Fall is the time of year when new students commonly begin to learn how to intubate. My first intubation was one of the first times I literally held someone’s life in my hands. I was nervous. The anesthesiologist teaching me tried to not look too anxious as I awkwardly grabbed my laryngoscope blade, fumbled while opening the patient’s mouth, and cautiously maneuvered the endotracheal tube into the trachea. It felt like time stopped until the tube was in place, after which the three of us (me, my teacher and my patient) all took a deep breath. Since then, over the last almost 37 years, I’ve intubated thousands of people in the U.S. and, as an international volunteer, eight countries.

So I thought it would be helpful at this time of year to discuss a step-by-step approach to intubation with the commonly used curved blade. Intubation, like a dance, is composed to steps that flow naturally from one to the next. The trick to a smooth intubation is to allow each step to blend seamlessly together. The description and illustrations below are excerpted from my book Anyone Can Intubate, where you can find more detail about this and many other topics. Read More …

Anticipated Difficult Intubation: Should I Intubate The Patient Awake?

When facing any intubation, you must decide whether the intubation is safer to be performed asleep or awake. Many providers are uncomfortable with performing awake intubations and leave it as a last resort. There are a variety of reasons for this discomfort, including lack of experience and/or the fear that the patient will remember the intubation and think poorly of their care. However, awake intubation can be a safe and comfortable strategy in many clinical situations. This article discusses some of the criteria for deciding when to do an awake intubation. Read More …

Alert: We May All Be Over-Inflating Our LMA Cuffs!

The laryngeal mask airway, or LMA, is so commonly used, and so apparently safe, that it’s easy to become complacent. Research is showing that it’s apparently very common for us to over-inflate our LMA cuffs — to the potential harm of our patients. This article discusses some of the risks of overinflation, the predispositions to overinflation, and some of the strategies to avoid it. Read More …

Mask Ventilation: Avoiding Hand Fatigue

Those of us who ventilate patients have all been there. We’ve been ventilating a patient with a bag-valve-mask device during a prolonged and difficult intubation process and our hand holding the mask starts to cramp. When ventilating a patient with a mask, it’s important to know how to open and airway and provide positive pressure breaths. However, it’s also important to know how to do so in a way that conserves your grip strength. Ventilating with a mask can be very tiring to your hand. Prolonged “masking” can tire your hand to the extent that you lose grip strength and coordination — making maintenance of an open airway harder to sustain over time.
Here we discuss tips on how to ventilate effectively while avoiding hand fatigue. Read More …