Difficult tracheal intubation in obstetrics


Difficult intubation has been classified into four grades, according to the view obtainable at laryngoscopy. Frequency analysis suggests that, in obstetrics, the main cause of trouble is grade 3, in which the epiglottis can be seen, but not the cords. This group is fairly rare so that a proportion of anaesthetists will not meet the problem in their first few years and may thus be unprepared for it in obstetrics. However the problem can be simulated in routine anaesthesia, so that a drill for managing it can be practised. Laryngoscopy is carried out as usual, then the blade is lowered so that the epiglottis descends and hides the cords. Intubation has to be done blind, using the Macintosh method. This can be helpful as part of the training before starting in the maternity department, supplementing the Aberdeen drill.

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