When Learning Intubation Is Hard

Learning to intubate is easier for some people than for others. Sometimes, no matter how knowledgeable you are about the theory of the technique, the novice can still struggle to bring it all together to pass the endotracheal tube. The anatomy can be confusing. Understanding how to place the laryngoscope blade and manipulate that anatomy can be challenging. And all the while you must be ever vigilant to protect those precious front teeth, avoid hypertension and tachycardia, and breathe for the patient at regular intervals. This article discusses 4 chief technical barrier to learning to intubate. Read More …

Intubation With A Curved Blade

Direct laryngoscopy depends on being able to bring the 3 axes of the airway into alignment to see the larynx. Straight and curved blades use different techniques for bringing the larynx into view. Curved blades are commonly used, especially by beginners because they are more forgiving of less than optimal placement and provide more room to pass the tube. However, it’s important to use them correctly. This article will discuss intubation technique using a curved blade. 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 …

Tips To Teaching Intubation

With fall comes the new crop of trainees eager to learn how to intubate. There will also be a new group of instructors teaching their first students to intubate. Teaching intubation skills on living patients, even those that have practiced on a manikin, can be challenging. It’s important to anticipate the common errors so we can safeguard our patients. Read More …

Avoiding Difficult Intubation Of The Easy Airway

We’ve all done it. It’s extremely easy to make any otherwise routine intubation difficult just by failing to properly position the patient or to use optimal technique. This article discusses the various ways you can adjust patient positioning and use your equipment to make intubation easy. Read More …

Intubating An Infant or Toddler

This article discussion some of the key points to intubating an infant or small child safely. Providers who infrequently care for infants and children less than two years of age are often rightfully anxious when faced with a sick child, especially if airway management is required. This is especially true if the child is less than one. Healthy respect is certainly indicated because airway complications are one of the leading causes of pediatric cardiac arrest.
Intubating an infant or small child is more of a challenge than an older child or adult both because of their anatomical differences as well as their physiologic predisposition for hypoxia. However, anyone who can intubate an adult can also intubate an infant or toddler safely if they take these differences in anatomy and physiology into account and are gentle and methodical in their approach.
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Positioning The Head For Intubation

This article discusses the different ways of placing the patient in the sniffing position and the advantages and disadvantages of each to improve first pass intubation success. Position of the head and neck for intubation can make intubation easy, or hard.
Many years ago our operating room administration Removed the towels we had been using to position the head for intubation. It may be an exaggeration to say that chaos ensued, but it felt like that.

For the next several days our anesthesia providers had trouble intubating. We likened it to an expert golfer who, when suddenly faced with a new set of golf clubs of slightly different weight and length, suddenly has to relearn the game. It made us realize that how we position the head in the sniffing position often sets us up for either an easy or for a more difficult intubation if you don’t realize what’s happening during the positioning. Read More …

Glidescope: Tricks For Successful Intubation

Glidescopes are very easy to use, but intubation with the Glidescope is very different than direct laryngoscopy. I have seen many novice Glidescope users struggle to intubate, despite having great views of the larynx. Failure to recognize the differences of using the Glidescope can make intubation not only frustrating but also hazardous to your patient. Beginners almost always make the same few easy to correct mistakes. This article discusses those mistakes and how to correct them. Read More …

The Bougie: Use Wisely To Avoid Rare But Serious Complications

One of the simplest and most valuable devices to help with a difficult intubation is the bougie. The primary use is a difficult intubation, when you cannot see the larynx well but are able to predict where the glottic opening should be based on anatomy. This article discusses techniques as well as potential complications. Bougies must be used with care to avoid patient injury. Read More …

Using Straight Laryngoscopy Blades

Intubation by direct laryngoscopy depends on using the laryngoscope blade to give you a clear field of view of the larynx by shifting the tongue and other pharyngeal structures out of the way. As you might imagine, the patient’s anatomy, pathology, or position can sometimes make this visualization difficult. Laryngoscopy blades come in different shapes to help manage these various situations. Read More …