Managing the challenging pediatric airway

Managing the challenging pediatric airway

This module will give the anesthesia provider the information needed to identify, prepare for, and clinically manage a difficult airway in children.

Although the incidence of difficult intubation is lower in children than in adults, the anesthesiologist who even occasionally cares for children must be prepared to manage the pediatric patient with a known or suspected difficult airway. Many of the predictors of a difficult intubation that are useful in adults do not apply to children. Predictably, many children with a challenging airway also have a syndrome or diagnosis known to be associated with difficult intubation.

Most non-pediatric anesthesiologists are comfortable caring for children over eight years of age provided there are no significant comorbidities. A suspected difficult airway is probably the single most worrisome coexisting condition affecting this comfort level. This continuing professional development module will help the anesthesia provider to identify a challenging airway in pediatric patients and to plan for anesthetic induction in such cases.

Objectives of this Continuing Professional Development (CPD) module:

After reading this module, the anesthesia provider should be able to:

  1. Describe the clinically relevant differences between the pediatric and adult airway;
  2. Identify predictors of a difficult pediatric airway;
  3. Conduct the safe anesthetic management of a child with a difficult airway;
  4. Formulate a plan in the event of an unanticipated difficult intubation or a failed tracheal intubation in a child.

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