II. Precautions

  1. Consider consulting anesthesia for semi-elective intubations in children
  2. Consider Airway Foreign Body
  3. Infants are lowest among first pass success
  4. Children typically have better outcomes if intubation (or other Advanced Airway) is performed in a controlled setting
    1. Bag-Valve-Mask Positive Pressure Ventilation is preferred for children in the pre-hospital setting
    2. Laryngeal Mask Airway (LMA) may also be used effectively until definitive airway placement
  5. Prehospital Pediatric Intubation is uncommon and experience is difficult to maintain
    1. Bag Valve Mask is associated with better survival outcomes
    2. Esophageal intubation or tube displacement occurs in up to 8% of cases (nearly always fatal)
  6. References
    1. Gausche-Hill (2016) ACEP-PEM Conference, Difficult Airway Lecture, attended 3/8/2016
    2. Braude and Moore in Herbert (2015) EM:Rap 15(5):3-4
    3. Gausche (2000) JAMA 283(6): 783-90 +PMID:10683058 [PubMed]

III. Anatomy: Head and neck differences in children (make intubation more challenging)

  1. Prominent occiput
  2. Large Tongue
  3. Small jaw
  4. Larynx is cephalad to adult position (opposite C2-C3 instead of C4-6)
  5. Epiglottis is large and floppy
  6. Airway narrows at the cricoid ring (below the Vocal Cords)

IV. Risk Factors: Congenital syndromes (head and neck anatomic abnormalities complicating intubation)

  1. Down Syndrome
    1. Large Tongue and small mouth
    2. Larygospasm is common
    3. Atlantoaxial Instability
  2. Pierre Robin Syndrome
    1. Large Tongue and small mouth
    2. Mandibular anomaly
  3. Goldenhar Syndrome
    1. Mandibular Hypoplasia
  4. Turner Syndrome
    1. Short neck
  5. Cystic Hygroma
    1. Airway compression
  6. Hemangioma
    1. Hemorrhage with local Trauma

V. Risk Factors: Acute conditions that impair intubation

VI. Management

  1. Video Laryngoscopy
    1. May improve first pass success
    2. Glidescope, Storz and Airtraq have all pediatric sizes
    3. However, hyperangulated blades (e.g. glidescope) may make intubating children more difficult
      1. ET Tube may not retain its hyperangulated position, when withdrawing stylet and advancing
      2. Direct Laryngoscopy blade does not introduce the hyperangulated blade position
    4. When inserting the Laryngoscope in children, advance progressively in the midline
      1. Visualize the uvula, then the epiglottis, then the arytenoids
  2. Endotracheal Tubes
    1. Cuffed Endotracheal Tubes are now often used in infants and children
      1. Cuff is engineered to be a smaller width than prior cuffs (less than the prior 1/2 tube size adjustment)
      2. Uncuffed ET Tubes require replacement due to air leak in 30% of cases (compared with 2-3% for cuffed ET)
      3. Prior concerns for airway Trauma from cuff hyperinflation
        1. Start with a small amount of cuff air insertion (1-3 cc) and inflate more if air leak
    2. Pre-mark/tape the Endotracheal Tube at the calculated depth for age/ET size (e.g. 3x the ET diameter)
  3. Useful associated devices and techniques
    1. Capnography
  4. Devices that may be less effective in children
    1. Elastic Bougie
      1. Tracheal rings are difficult to distinguish in children
      2. Adult Elastic Bougie is 5 mm diameter (15 Fr) and will only fit inside a 6 mm ET Tube or larger
      3. Pediatric Elastic Bougie is 3.3 mm diameter (10 Fr) and will fit inside a 4 to 5.5 mm ET
    2. Oral Airways
      1. Usefulness in children may be limited to Macroglossia, Down Syndome, and mucopolysaccharide diseases
  5. Devices that require precautions
    1. Bag-valve mask ventilation
      1. Avoid over-ventilation
      2. Gently squeeze bag to initiate chest rise and then release
      3. Nasogastric Tube or oral Gastric Tube may be required to decompress Stomach
  6. Consider alternatives to Endotracheal Intubation if difficult airway is anticipated
    1. Laryngeal Mask Airway (LMA) as rescue airway in children
      1. Failure rate: 5-10% (due to large epiglottis)
      2. Pediatric LMAs are available
      3. Can temporize for an hour until a definitive airway can be placed
      4. Sizes per age are on Broselow Tape
    2. Needle Cricothyrotomy
      1. Can be used to temporize in children under age 10 years
      2. Surgical Cricothyrotomy is contraindicated in under age 10 years due to very small cricothyroid membrane
      3. Can temporize for up to 45 minutes until definitive airway can be placed

VII. References

  1. Sacchetti and Nagler in Herbert (2019) EM:Rap 19(8): 4-5,7

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