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Awake Cricothyrotomy: A Novel Approach to the Surgical Airway in the Tactical Setting

Robert L Mabry, Chetan U Kharod, Brad L Bennett
Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 2017, 28 (2S): S61-S68
28601212
Airway obstruction on the battlefield is most often due to maxillofacial trauma, which may include bleeding and disrupted airway anatomy. In many of these cases, surgical cricothyrotomy (SC) is the preferred airway management procedure. SC is an emergency airway procedure performed when attempts to open an airway using nasal devices, oral devices, or tracheal intubation have failed, or when the risks from intubation are unacceptably high. The aim of this overview is to describe a novel approach to the inevitably surgical airway in which SC is the first and best procedure to manage the difficult or failed airway. The awake SC technique and supporting algorithm are presented along with the limitations and future directions. Awake SC, using local anesthetic with or without ketamine, will allow the knowledgeable provider to manage patients with a compromised airway across the continuum of emergency care ranging from remote/en route care, austere settings, and prehospital to the emergency department.

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