Acute airway management. Role of cricothyroidotomy

G. A. DeLaurier, M. L. Hawkins, R. C. Treat, A. R. Mansberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Thirty-four cases of emergency cricothyroidotomy performed from September 1984 through January 1988 are reviewed. Thirty-one of the cases were required out of 2,200 acute-trauma patients. The indication for cricothyroidotomy was inability to establish an airway by intubation usually in a situation of possible neck injury or severe facial trauma. Fourteen of the patients died as a result of their injuries, 13 of these in the first several hours after injury. The 20 surviving patients are studied in two groups: eleven patients whose cricothyroidotomy remained in place until decannulation (group I) and nine patients who underwent tracheostomy subsequent to cricothyroidotomy (group II). Clinical follow-up included physical examination in all survivors and endoscopic evaluation in twelve patients. Three minor complications were discovered in each of the two groups and two major complications were noted in group II. The major complications included a case of tracheal stomal stenosis requiring tracheal resection and a case of partially obstructing tracheal granulation tissue requiring endoscopic resection. This study supports the use of emergency cricothyroidotomy in situations in which intubation is not successful or thought to be safe. Data is also presented that suggests that tracheostomy subsequent to emergency cricothyroidotomy does not necessarily reduce airway-related morbidity in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-15
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 11 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Acute airway management. Role of cricothyroidotomy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this