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Retrograde intubation: An alternative in difficult airway management in the absence of a fiberoptic laryngoscope

Indian Journal of Anaesthesia
Medknow Publications
Publication Date
DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.72662
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Sir, A 60-year-old male patient weighing 82 kg was posted for emergency evacuation of a subdural haematoma. Pre-anaesthetic evaluation of the patient revealed no abnormalities, with the patient being semiconscious, GCS 10 and showing no neurological deficit. On examination of the airway, all parameters such as mouth opening, lip biting, Tempero mandibular joint subluxation and thyromental and mentohyoid distance were within normal limits and were Mallampati grade II. The patient was pre-medicated with 1 mg of Midazolam, 0.2 mg of Glycopyrrolate and 100 μg of Fentanyl intravenously (IV). After induction with thiopentone sodium 300 mg IV, 6 mg of Vecuronium bromide IV was given and it was noted that although mask ventilation was possible, there was some resistance to air entry into the trachea, as suggested by reservoir bag resistance and inflation of the stomach. To relive the airway resistance, Guedel’s airway was inserted. After insertion of airway, airway resistance was decreased and saturation was maintained. On attempting endotracheal intubation, the epiglottis could be visualized but the glottis could not be visualized even after external laryngeal pressure was applied. The third time, we attempted the gum elastic bougie for intubation of the patient, with the epiglottis as a guide. When this attempt also failed, we put a call to the ENT surgeon to establish a surgical airway. While waiting for the surgeon, because the patient was already anaesthetized, we could attempt an emergency retrograde intubation. Cricothyriod membrane puncture was performed with a 16 G needle and a guide wire used in central venous cannulation was advanced cephalad through the needle, the larynx and out of the mouth; the tracheal tube was passed over the guide wire. We went ahead with the procedure and timed ourselves till we successfully observed equal bilateral air entry after endotracheal intubation. The entire procedure took only 145 s. The surgical procedure and anaesthesia were uneventful. On completion, the r

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