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Papers of the Week

2021 Apr 08

Anaesth Intensive Care

Iatrogenic uvular injury related to airway instrumentation: A report of 13 cases from the webAIRS database and a review of uvular necrosis following inadvertent uvular injury.


Published reports of uvular necrosis are uncommon and it is possibly an under-reported complication of oropharyngeal manipulation. Uvular necrosis is thought to develop due to ischaemia secondary to mechanical compression of the uvula from oropharyngeal devices. Patients typically present with symptoms of a sore throat within 48 hours postoperatively. It is unclear whether there are any preventable factors, or any specific management strategies that might reduce this complication. Treatment is most commonly conservative management, including observation and simple analgesia. We present 13 cases of uvular injury that were reported to a web-based anaesthesia incident reporting system (webAIRS), a voluntary de-identified anaesthesia incident reporting system in Australia and New Zealand. While the postoperative findings varied, sore throat was the most frequent symptom. Most of the cases resolved spontaneously; the remainder with supportive treatment only. The findings suggest that patients who sustain a uvular injury can be reassured, but they should be advised to seek review early if sore throat persists or any difficulty with breathing develops.