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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Apneic Oxygenation: Increase Your Patient’s Margin Of Safety During Intubation

Breathing room air, oxygen saturation drops precipitously to below 90% within about a minute of the start of apnea in the average healthy adult. While preoxygenation is one of the most important safety measures we can use prior to induction of anesthesia and in preparation for intubation, apneic oxygenation can allow even more time for intubation to occur. Apneic oxygenation using nasal cannula can significantly delay the onset of critical hypoxia.

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Assisting Ventilation With Bag-Valve-Mask

As an anesthesiologist, I often run to emergencies where the patient is not breathing adequately and requires intubation. However, before any intubation, a patient in respiratory distress/failure needs ventilation. Providers who have passed ACLS are often able to ventilate an apneic patient well because they have practiced on the manikin.

Providers who infrequently need to ventilate an apneic patient will have more difficulty assisting the ventilation of a patient who is still breathing spontaneously. In addition, providers will occasionally hesitate to try to assist a patient’s breathing while waiting for the intubation team because they feel they don’t know how. Delay in improving ventilation can place your patient at higher risk of complication. This is unfortunate because in many ways assisting ventilation is even easier than manually ventilating an apneic patient. This article reviews the mechanic of breathing to show how to assist ventilation. Read More …