I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

2019 Aug 02

Br J Hosp Med (Lond)



Upper airway tract complications of endotracheal intubation.


Tikka T, Hilmi OJ
Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2019 Aug 02; 80(8):441-447.
PMID: 31437047.


The gold standard in airway maintenance is translaryngeal endotracheal intubation, but this is not without its complications. Trauma to the upper airway as a result of the act of endotracheal intubation is a common event in adults undergoing procedures under general anaesthesia. Sites requiring attention during intubation include the laryngeal apparatus, the pharynx and oral cavity as well as the nasal cavity when nasopharyngeal intubation is performed. Patients can present with a range of symptoms which can make assessment and management challenging. Dysphonia, throat pain and dysphagia are the commonest presenting complaints. Patient-related factors, intubation technique and other anaesthetic-related conditions can be a cause of trauma, if not adequately considered before intubation. All patients should be carefully examined preoperatively and their past medical history obtained. Patient demographics, comorbidities, existing airway pathology and presence of reflux should be noted. Trauma prevention strategies should be in place to eliminate avoidable complications. Potential difficult airway cases should be flagged up and adequately prepared for, in anticipation of intubation difficulties that can lead to trauma. The majority of injuries will resolve spontaneously with conservative management. Persistent symptomatology, usually secondary to laryngeal injuries, requires prompt referral to an ear nose and throat specialist with an interest in laryngology for further assessment and treatment.