Time to change thinking on ‘cricoid pressure’

April 19, 2014 by  
Filed under All Updates, EMS, ICU, Resus

Here’s my take on the role of ‘cricoid pressure’ in critical care intubation.


Cautionary notice: This post represents my opinion on a topic about which airway practitioners seem to be divided. It is deliberately provocative in order to stimulate thinking and to challenge assumptions. It is not meant to offend or to divide professions or specialties, who seem to be spread over both sides of the question anyway.

As with all posts, I strongly recommend you follow your institutional policy regarding clinical practice and follow the advice of your supervisors. This is not a postgraduate training program. It’s a guy on the internet.

Okay I am now SO tired of endless circular arguments about cricoid pressure like those currently taking place on the FOAMcc Google Plus Community.

As I see it, ‘cricoid pressure’ should not be considered the standard of care in critical care rapid sequence intubation. The potential for harm (proven) vastly outweighs any likelihood of benefit (unproven).

Some practitioners argue that because it has traditionally been considered standard of care in operating room-based practice, and additionally because some guidelines recommend its use in anaesthesia, then it should be applied as a standard for critical care intubation outside the operating room. And they maintain this stance while simultaneously acknowledging the validity of evidence that it frequently is poorly applied outside the OR, and that it often significantly impairs the view on laryngoscopy. They reassure us that ‘you can always remove it if you get a bad view’ (I know, that makes me face-palm too).

Consider the weakness of this argument. While the rest of the critical care world has been espousing the goal of optimising first pass laryngoscopy success over the last decade, these unwitting promulgators of muppetry are recommending a technique that they admit can reduce first pass success unless it’s removed. So, in a critical resuscitation setting, where everything we’ve learned and taught in the last few years demonstrates the importance of human factors, simplicity, and reducing cognitive load, these ‘CP’ proponents are happy to commit an extra member of the team (where’s this person coming from in an ED, prehospital, ward or rural clinic setting exactly?) to a useless technique that someone then has to remember to get them to remove – thus invoking an additional cognitive step during a time of heightened cognitive demand (failed laryngoscopy) for NO proven benefit and a list of potential harms that have been so well described elsewhere over and over. This argument displays comparably breathtaking ignorance to the one that promulgates the use of propofol for induction because you can give a ‘metaraminol chaser’ afterwards to recover the blood pressure (at the likely expense of blood flow).

An unsurprising but at the same time very reassuring observation is that consultant anaesthetists who simultaneously specialise in critical care (intensive care and/or prehospital & retrieval medicine), such as Drs John Hinds, Pete Sherren, Anthony Lewis, Per Bredmose, and Geoff Healy (all of whom know far more about anaesthetising the critically ill than I ever will) will argue forcefully and eloquently AGAINST the use of cricoid pressure, demonstrating this isn’t about anaesthetists versus other specialists, its about something else – perhaps resuscitationists versus non-resuscitationists, or evidence-based practitioners versus dogma-based practitioners.

Since cricoid pressure in critical care settings is often poorly applied, displaces the oesophagus sideways (that it’s supposed to be occluding), compresses the airway (preventing tube passage), and distorts the airway (inhibiting larygoscopic view), it could be argued that it isn’t the ‘pure’ cricoid pressure one would desire in the operative setting anyway. Because of that, I don’t think we should call it ‘cricoid pressure’ any more. Just as U.S. emergency physicians successfully engineered a culture shift by rebranding ‘rapid sequence induction of anaesthesia’ (when it’s all about the anaesthesia, because the patient needs an operation) to ‘rapid sequence intubation’ (it’s all about drug assisted intubation, because the patient needs resuscitative airway protection or improved gas exchange), I think as critical care providers we must take ownership of this farcical situation and rebrand the assault on the airways of our critically ill patients by would-be chicken bombers who appear not to grasp the environmental and human factors that we devote our careers as resuscitationists to mastering.

So my call to arms is this: resuscitationists, you must stop ‘feeding the bears’ in this ‘debate’ and OWN the terminology. Join me in the rebranding of this destructive manoeuvre that slows down, or retards, effective airway management. From this day forward, we are not calling it cricoid pressure any more. Ladies and gentlemen, fellow resuscitationists, my suggestion, my request, is that we now refer to it as manual Routine Esophageal Transposition with Airway Restriction and Distortion. I know that’s a mouthful, but the good news is this: it abbreviates to a memorable acronym, which is ‘manual RETARD’. Of course, this could well be construed as offensive, so you must put the emphasis on the final syllable, as in the verb ‘to retard’ (to delay or set back).

Let the debate go away, unless both sides are talking about the same thing: manual ‘RETARD’, or until some new evidence arises that proves me wrong, in which case I will savour the slice of humble pie as long as it’s coated in the sauce of real science.

Palpating neonatal tracheal tubes

April 6, 2014 by  
Filed under All Updates, EMS, ICU, Kids, Resus

infant-intubate-iconAfter neonatal intubation, the incidence of malposition of the tip of the tracheal tube is fairly high.

A technique was evaluated involving palpation of the tube tip in the suprasternal notch, which in this small study was superior to insertion length based on a weight-based nomogram.

The suprasternal notch was chosen because it anatomically corresponds to vertebral level T2, close to the optimal position at the mid-tracheal point. Correct position on the chest radiograph was defined as any position <0.5 cm above the interclavicular midpoint and more than 1 cm above the carina.

During tracheal tube placement, the tip was gently palpated in the suprasternal notch with the index or little finger of the left hand while holding the body of the tube with the fingers of the right hand. The tube tip was adjusted until the bevelled edge was just palpable in the the suprasternal notch.

Digital palpation of endotracheal tube tip as a method of confirming endotracheal tube position in neonates: an open-label, three-armed randomized controlled trial.
Paediatr Anaesth. 2013 Oct;23(10):934-9


OBJECTIVE: To compare the malposition rates of endotracheal tubes (ETTs) when the insertional length (IL) is determined by a weight-based nomogram versus when IL is determined by palpation of the ETT tip.

DESIGN: Open-label, randomized controlled trial (RCT).

SETTING: Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

SUBJECTS: All newborn babies admitted in NICU requiring intubation.

INTERVENTIONS: Subjects were randomly allocated to one of three groups, wherein IL was determined by (i) weight-based nomogram alone, (ii) weight-based nomogram combined with suprasternal palpation of ETT tip performed by specially trained neonatology fellows, or (iii) combination of weight-based and suprasternal methods by personnel not specially trained.

PRIMARY OUTCOME: Rate of malposition of ETT as judged on chest X-ray (CXR).

RESULTS: Fifty seven babies were randomized into group 1(n = 15), group 2 (n = 20), and group 3 (n = 22). The proportion of correct ETT placement was highest in group 2, being 66.7%, 83.3%, and 66.7% in groups 1 through 3, respectively (P value = 0.58). No complication was attributable to palpation technique.

CONCLUSION: Suprasternal palpation shows promise as a simple, safe, and teachable method of confirming ETT position in neonates.

Guidelines on prehospital drug-assisted LMA insertion

December 9, 2013 by  
Filed under All Updates, EMS, Guidelines, Trauma

The UK’s Faculty of Prehospital Care has published a number of consensus guidelines in this month’s EMJ

Dr Minh Le Cong‘s PHARM blog has summaries of three of them:

The final one is the most contentious: Pharmacologically assisted laryngeal mask insertion: a consensus statement(1). Here is the summary:

  1. The PALM technique is an acceptable tool for managing the prehospital airway
  2. The PALM technique is indicated in a rare set of circumstances
  3. The PALM procedure is a rescue technique
  4. The PALM procedure should be checklist driven
  5. At least a second generation SAD should be used
  6. End-tidal CO2 monitoring is mandatory
  7. No preference is expressed for any particular drug
  8. No preference is expressed for any particular dosing regime
  9. Flumazenil is highly unlikely to have a role in managing the PALM patient
  10. The PALM procedure should only be carried out by practitioners of level 7 or above competences
  11. The availability of a trained assistant, familiar with the procedure would be advantageous
  12. The training required to achieve competency in performing the PALM procedure must include in-hospital insertion of SADs, simulation training and training in the transfer of critically ill patients
  13. Data should be collected and collated at a national level for all patients who receive the PALM procedure

They qualify the first point with the statement: The consensus group felt that, in the hands of a specific set of practitioners and in certain circumstances, patients would benefit from the technique. It was recognised that pre-hospital airway management can be very challenging, and deeming the technique unacceptable could deprive patients of a potentially life saving intervention. It was felt that having another tool available to clinicians which could potentially improve patient outcome was important. This was despite the lack of a robust evidence base. It was felt that the technique is indicated in, and should be limited to, a very specific set of circumstances as described below

The publication lists some ‘Organisations represented at the consensus meeting’, which include some commercial training and equipment companies.

It also states that ‘The Royal College of Anaesthetists, although represented at the initial meeting, was unable to support the outcomes agreed by the other represented organisations.

This is a very interesting development. I can see the pros and cons of this. Since practitioners are out there doing PALM anyway, it is in the interests of patients to produce a statement that encourages monitoring, checklists, training, and data collection. To meet all the requirements, one must undergo ‘training in the transfer of critically ill patients’, which would normally necessitate more advanced airway and anaesthesia skills anyway.

A tough one – what would you want if there was no RSI capability but you were hypoxic with trismus and basic airway maneouvres were failing? An all out ban on PALM, or PALM provided by someone trained in surgical airway if it fails (as per the consensus recommendations)?

This and some of the other statements can be downloaded in full at the Faculty of Pre-hospital Care site

1. Pharmacologically assisted laryngeal mask insertion: a consensus statement
Emerg Med J. 2013 Dec;30(12):1073-5

Pleurodesis for spontaneous pneumothorax?

July 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Acute Med, All Updates, Resus

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A Taiwanese study demonstrated a lower recurrence rate when primary spontaneous pneumothoraces requiring drainage received pleurodesis using minocycline(1). However, significantly more pleurodesed patients required opioid analgesia, and the success rates were less than are found with surgical methods, which are recommended in the West, where pleurodesis is reserved for patients unfit for surgery(2).

1. Simple aspiration and drainage and intrapleural minocycline pleurodesis versus simple aspiration and drainage for the initial treatment of primary spontaneous pneumothorax: an open-label, parallel-group, prospective, randomised, controlled trial
Lancet. 2013 Apr 13;381(9874):1277-82


BACKGROUND: Simple aspiration and drainage is a standard initial treatment for primary spontaneous pneumothorax, but the rate of pneumothorax recurrence is substantial. We investigated whether additional minocycline pleurodesis after simple aspiration and drainage reduces the rate of recurrence.

METHODS: In our open-label, parallel-group, prospective, randomised, controlled trial at two hospitals in Taiwan, patients were aged 15-40 years and had a first episode of primary spontaneous pneumothorax with a rim of air greater than 2 cm on chest radiographs, complete lung expansion without air leakage after pigtail catheter drainage, adequate haematological function, and normal renal and hepatic function. After simple aspiration and drainage via a pigtail catheter, patients were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive 300 mg of minocycline pleurodesis or no further treatment (control group). Randomisation was by computer-generated random numbers in sealed envelopes. Our primary endpoint was rate of pneumothorax recurrence at 1 year. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00418392).

FINDINGS: Between Dec 31, 2006, and June 30, 2012, 214 patients were randomly assigned-106 to the minocycline group and 108 to the control group (intention-to-treat population). Treatment was unsuccessful within 7 days of randomisation in 14 patients in the minocycline group and 20 patients in the control group. At 1 year, pneumothoraces had recurred in 31 of 106 (29·2%) patients in the minocycline group compared with 53 of 108 (49·1%) in the control group (p=0·003). We noted no procedure-related complications in either group.

INTERPRETATION: Simple aspiration and drainage followed by minocycline pleurodesis is a safe and more effective treatment for primary spontaneous pneumothorax than is simple aspiration and drainage only. Minocycline pleurodesis should be an adjunct to standard treatment for primary spontaneous pneumothorax.

2. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax: to pleurodese or not?
Lancet. 2013 Apr 13;381(9874):1252-4

Thenar eminence based medicine

June 3, 2013 by  
Filed under All Updates, EMS, ICU, Kids, Resus, Trauma

thumbs-upA recent study showed superior effectiveness of one bag-mask ventilation style over another in novice providers. The technique recommended is the thenar eminence grip, in which downward pressure is applied with the thenar eminences while the four fingers of each hand pull the jaw upwards toward the mask.

Interestingly, in their crossover study in which the thenar emininence (TE) technique was compared with the traditionally taught ‘CE’ technique, they demonstrated a ‘sequence effect’. If subjects did TE first, they maintained good tidal volumes when doing CE. However if they did CE first, they achieved poor tidal volumes which were markedly improved when switching to TE.

The authors suggest: “A possible explanation for this sequence effect is that the TE grip is superior. When one used the TE grip first, he or she was more likely to learn how a good tidal volume “feels” and then more likely to apply good technique with the EC grip.“.

Some of us have been practicing and teaching this technique for a while. None have put it better than the brilliant Reuben Strayer of EM Updates in this excellent short video:


Efficacy of facemask ventilation techniques in novice providers
J Clin Anesth. 2013 May;25(3):193-7


STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine which of two facemask grip techniques for two-person facemask ventilation was more effective in novice clinicians, the traditional E-C clamp (EC) grip or a thenar eminence (TE) technique.

DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, crossover comparison study.

SETTING: Operating room of a university hospital.

SUBJECTS: 60 novice clinicians (medical and paramedic students).

MEASUREMENTS: Subjects were assigned to perform, in a random order, each of the two mask-grip techniques on consenting ASA physical status 1, 2, and 3 patients undergoing elective general anesthesia while the ventilator delivered a fixed 500 mL tidal volume (VT). In a crossover manner, subjects performed each facemask ventilation technique (EC and TE) for one minute (12 breaths/min). The primary outcome was the mean expired VT compared between techniques. As a secondary outcome, we examined mean peak inspiratory pressure (PIP).

MAIN RESULTS: The TE grip provided greater expired VT (379 mL vs 269 mL), with a mean difference of 110 mL (P < 0.0001; 95% CI: 65, 157). Using the EC grip first had an average VT improvement of 200 mL after crossover to the TE grip (95% CI: 134, 267). When the TE grip was used first, mean VTs were greater than for EC by 24 mL (95% CI: -25, 74). When considering only the first 12 breaths delivered (prior to crossover), the TE grip resulted in mean VTs of 339 mL vs 221 mL for the EC grip (P = 0.0128; 95% CI: 26, 209). There was no significant difference in PIP values using the two grips: the TE mean (SD) was 14.2 (7.0) cm H2O, and the EC mean (SD) was 13.5 (9.0) cm H2O (P = 0.49).

CONCLUSIONS: The TE facemask ventilation grip results in improved ventilation over the EC grip in the hands of novice providers.

Awake intubation

May 14, 2013 by  
Filed under All Updates, EMS, ICU, Resus

I had some fun today getting intubated.

We used the Ambu aScope 2 and the Greater Sydney Area HEMS equipment and approach to airway management. I didn’t receive an antisialogogue or any analgesia or sedation.

The big learning point for me was how hard it was to anaesthetise the posterior part of my nasal cavity and nasopharynx. I thought the worst part would be any stimulation of my vocal cords or trachea with lidocaine or instrumentation, but this really was fine. Nebulised 2% lidocaine (the strongest concentration we have), atomised lidocaine (using a mucosal atomiser), and co-phenylcaine spray weren’t sufficient. I can see why people use pastes or gel to maintain mucosal contact while the lidocaine takes effect, but we don’t have those (yet). The best solution came from hooking up oxygen tubing to an iv cannula via a three way tap. Oxygen was run through at 2 l/min and lidocaine injected via the the three way tap. This enabled an atomised spray to be directed right onto the area concerned, and made the insertion of the nasotracheal tube more tolerable – although still unpleasant.

crazed-nutter-sm

The fact I could be intubated awake with reasonable topicalisation suggests most patients should tolerate it perhaps after even an analgesic dose of ketamine, eg. 30-40 mg in an adult. I suspect full dissocation would not be required, which is good for cooperation (“stick your tongue out sir”). I appreciate there are better agents, such as remifentanil or dexmedetomidine, but my area of interest is the retrieval setting – where I have neither the luxury of using these agents nor that of calling for anaesthetic back up.

Thanks to HEMS physicians Emily Stimson, Nirosha De Zoysa, Felicity Day, Chloe Tetlow, and Fergal McCourt for making it fun and safe.

Here’s the video:

Twitter has been helpful in gathering some advice, particularly from @DocJohnHinds:

Another argument for ED thoracotomy

April 18, 2013 by  
Filed under All Updates, EMS, ICU, Kids, Resus, Trauma

ICM-iconA team from Los Angeles (including the great Kenji Inaba) has published a study on penetrating cardiac wounds in the pediatric population[1]. This is one of the largest studies on this thankfully rare event.

The outcome was poor which may be due to the high proportion of patients arriving at hospital without signs of life (SOL).

What I like about the paper is the discussion of their liberal policy for the use of resuscitative ED thoracotomy:


…we do not rely heavily on prehospital data regarding the precise timing of loss of SOL. Thus, at the discretion of the attending trauma surgeon, every penetrating injury to the chest with SOL lost during patient transport will be considered for ED thoracotomy.

In cases when a perfusing cardiac rhythm is regained, the patient will receive all operative and critical care support as standard of care. If the patient progresses to brain death, aggressive donor management will be implemented in accordance with consent obtained by the organ procurement organization.

In a recent publication, we observed two pediatric patients who underwent ED thoracotomy that subsequently became organ donors after brain death was declared [2]. A total of nine organs were recovered for transplantation. This contemporary outcome measure is of paramount importance in the current era of significant organ shortage.


When such aggressive resuscitative procedures are attempted on arrested trauma patients, there is a temptation to justify inaction on the grounds of futility or the risk of ‘creating a vegetable’. This paper reminds us that other outcome benefits may arise from attempted resuscitation even if the patient does not survive.

These benefits include the saving of other lives through organ donation. In addition to this, there is the opportunity for family members to be with their loved one on the ICU, to hold their warm hand for the last time, to hear the news broken by a team they have gotten to know and trust, to enact any spiritual or religious rites that may provide a source of comfort and closure, and to be there during withdrawal of life sustaining therapies after diagnosis of brain stem death. That will never be pleasant, but on the bleak spectrum of parental torture it may be better than being told the devastating news in the ED relatives’ room by a stranger they’ve never met but will remember forever.

The ED thoracotomy may at the very least remove any doubt that everything that could have been done, was done.

1. Penetrating cardiac trauma in adolescents: A rare injury with excessive mortality
Journal of Pediatric Surgery (2013) 48, 745–749


Background Penetrating cardiac injuries in pediatric patients are rarely encountered. Likewise, the in-hospital outcome measures following these injuries are poorly described.

Methods All pediatric patients (<18years) sustaining penetrating cardiac injuries between 1/2000 and 12/2010 were retrospectively identified using the trauma registry of an urban level I trauma center. Demographic and admission variables, operative findings, and hospital course were extracted. Outpatient follow-up data were obtained through chart reviews and cardiac-specific imaging studies.

Results During the 11-year study period, 32 of the 4569 pediatric trauma admissions (0.7%) sustained penetrating cardiac injuries. All patients were male and the majority suffered stab wounds (81.2%). The mean systolic blood pressure on admission was 28.8±52.9mmHg and the mean ISS was 46.9±27.7. Cardiac chambers involved were the right ventricle (46.9%), the left ventricle (43.8%), and the right atrium (18.8%). Overall, 9 patients (28.1%) survived to hospital discharge. Outpatient follow-up echocardiography was available for 4 patients (44.4%). An abnormal echocardiography result was found in 1 patient, demonstrating hypokinesia and tricuspid regurgitation.

Conclusions Penetrating cardiac trauma is a rare injury in the pediatric population. Cardiac chambers predominantly involved are the right and left ventricles. This injury is associated with a low in-hospital survival (<30%).

2. Organ donation: an important outcome after resuscitative thoracotomy
J Am Coll Surg. 2010 Oct;211(4):450-5


BACKGROUND: The persistent shortage of transplantable organs remains a critical issue around the world. The purpose of this study was to investigate outcomes, including organ procurement, in trauma patients undergoing resuscitative emergency department thoracotomy (EDT). Our hypothesis was that potential organ donor rescue is one of the important outcomes after traumatic arrest and EDT.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study at Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center. Patients undergoing resuscitative EDT from January 1, 2006 through June 30, 2009 were analyzed. Primary outcomes measures included survival. Secondary outcomes included organ donation and the brain-dead potential organ donor.

RESULTS: During the 42-month study period, a total of 263 patients underwent EDT. Return of a pulse was achieved in 85 patients (32.3%). Of those patients, 37 (43.5%) subsequently died in the operating room and 48 (56.5%) survived to the surgical intensive care unit. Overall, 5 patients (1.9%) survived to discharge and 11 patients (4.2%) became potential organ donors. Five of the 11 potential organ donors had sustained a blunt mechanism injury. Of the 11 potential organ donors, 8 did not donate: 4 families declined consent, 3 because of poor organ function, and 1 expired due to cardiopulmonary collapse. Eventually 11 organs (6 kidneys, 2 livers, 2 pancreases, and 1 small bowel) were harvested from 3 donors. Two of the 3 donors had sustained blunt injury and 1 penetrating mechanism of injury.

CONCLUSIONS: Procurement of organs is one of the tangible outcomes after EDT. These organs have the potential to alter the survival and quality of life of more recipients than the number of survivors of the procedure itself.

Cricoid can worsen VL View

April 12, 2013 by  
Filed under All Updates, ICU, Resus

It is known that cricoid pressure can hinder laryngoscopic view of the cords during direct laryngoscopy. Using a Pentax-AWS Video laryngoscope, these authors have demonstrated that cricoid pressure can also worsen glottic view during video laryngoscopy.

Videographic Analysis of Glottic View With Increasing Cricoid Pressure Force
Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Apr;61(4):407-13


BACKGROUND:Cricoid pressure may negatively affect laryngeal view and compromise airway patency, according to previous studies of direct laryngoscopy, endoscopy, and radiologic imaging. In this study, we assess the effect of cricoid pressure on laryngeal view with a video laryngoscope, the Pentax-AWS.

METHODS: This cross-sectional survey involved 50 American Society of Anesthesiologists status I and II patients who were scheduled to undergo elective surgery. The force measurement sensor for cricoid pressure and the video recording system using a Pentax-AWS video laryngoscope were newly developed by the authors. After force and video were recorded simultaneously, 11 still images were selected per 5-N (Newton; 1 N = 1 kg·m·s(-2)) increments, from 0 N to 50 N for each patient. The effect of cricoid pressure was assessed by relative percentage compared with the number of pixels on an image at 0 N.

RESULTS: Compared with zero cricoid pressure, the median percentage of glottic view visible was 89.5% (interquartile range [IQR] 64.2% to 117.1%) at 10 N, 83.2% (IQR 44.2% to 113.7%) at 20 N, 76.4% (IQR 34.1% to 109.1%) at 30 N, 51.0% (IQR 21.8% to 104.2%) at 40 N, and 47.6% (IQR 15.2% to 107.4%) at 50 N. The number of subjects who showed unworsened views was 20 (40%) at 10 N, 17 (34%) at 20 and 30 N, and 13 (26%) at 40 and 50 N.

CONCLUSION: Cricoid pressure application with increasing force resulted in a worse glottic view, as examined with the Pentax-AWS Video laryngoscope. There is much individual difference in the degree of change, even with the same force. Clinicians should be aware that cricoid pressure affects laryngeal view with the Pentax-AWS and likely other video laryngoscopes.

Endovascular stroke treatment

February 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Acute Med, All Updates, ICU, Resus

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Two randomised controlled trials have been published which compare endovascular stroke treatments with intravenous tPA. Both the American Interventional Management of Stroke (IMS) III trial (1) and the Italian SYNTHESIS Expansion trial (2) had Modified Rankin Scores as their primary endpoint. No significant differences in this outcome or in mortality or intracranial haemorrhage rates were found in either trial, and IMS III was terminated early due to futility.

A third trial, from North America, called MR RESCUE, randomised patients within 8 hours after the onset of large vessel, anterior-circulation strokes to undergo mechanical embolectomy or receive standard care(3). No clinical outcome differences were demonstrated.

An accompanying editorial (4) draws the following conclusion:


“The IMS III and SYNTHESIS Expansion studies show that intravenous thrombolysis should continue to be the first-line treatment for patients with acute ischemic stroke within 4.5 hours after stroke onset, even if imaging shows an occluded major intracranial artery. Beyond 4.5 hours, the MR RESCUE trial does not provide data supporting the use of endovascular treatment in patients with an ischemic penumbra of any size.”

Many might argue that showing endovascular treatment is equivalent to thrombolysis just means endovascular treatment doesn’t work, because a significant proportion of the emergency medicine community views this as the correct interpretation of a thorough analysis of the stroke thrombolysis literature.

1. Endovascular Therapy after Intravenous t-PA versus t-PA Alone for Stroke
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

2. Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

3. A Trial of Imaging Selection and Endovascular Treatment for Ischemic Stroke
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

4.Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke — Still Unproven
NEJM Feb 8, 2013 Full Text Link

Lifting the Fogg on ED Intubaton

January 1, 2013 by  
Filed under All Updates, ICU, Resus

Fellow retrieval specialist and Royal North Shore Hospital emergency physician Dr Toby Fogg and coauthors have published their audit of intubations in an Australian Emergency Department(1). More important than the results themselves is that the process of monitoring ones practice inevitably leads to improvements. For example, at Toby’s institution an intubation checklist has been introduced since the audit began. Other Australasian EDs are encouraged to participate using the free resources at airwayregistry.org.au.

Recently we have also seen the publication of Korean registry data on paediatric intubations performed in 13 academic EDs over 5 years(2), in which first pass success rates (overall 67.6%) were higher with emergency physicians compared with paediatricians. Interestingly, a rapid sequence intubation technique was only used in 22.4% of intubations, which was more likely to be used by emergency physicians and was associated with a greater likelihood of first pass success.

This relatively low first pass success rate is reminiscent of the American study published in September(3) which raised some eyebrows with its 52% first pass intubation success rates in a paediatric ED, and which also showed that attending-level providers were 10 times more likely to be successful on the first attempt than all trainees combined. Possible reasons for such a low first pass success rate compared with adult registry data include the rigorous video analysis method used, or perhaps more likely that paediatric emergency subspecialists are exposed to fewer critical procedures, resuscitations, and intubations than their general emergency medicine counterparts(4).

As a specialty we must continue to seek to do better, and I salute all these brave authors who are telling it like it is. Particularly with children, whose airways are relatively easy, we have to develop the training, preparation, supervision, monitoring and feedback to aim for as high a success rate as possible.

Study authors Toby Fogg and Nick Annesley demonstrate the 'Happiness Triad'

1. Prospective observational study of the practice of endotracheal intubation in the emergency department of a tertiary hospital in Sydney, Australia
Emerg Med Australas. 2012 Dec;24(6):617-24


OBJECTIVE: To describe the practice of endotracheal intubation in the ED of a tertiary hospital in Australia, with particular emphasis on the indication, staff seniority, technique, number of attempts required and the rate of complications.

METHODS: A prospective observational study.

RESULTS: Two hundred and ninety-five intubations occurred in 18 months. Trauma was the indication for intubation in 30.5% (95% CI 25.3-36.0) and medical conditions in 69.5% (95% CI 64.0-74.5). Emergency physicians were team leaders in 69.5% (95% CI 64.0-74.5), whereas ED registrars or senior Resident Medical Officers made the first attempt at intubation in 88.1% (95% CI 83.9-91.3). Difficult laryngoscopy occurred in 24.0% (95% CI 19.5-29.3) of first attempts, whereas first pass success occurred in 83.4% (95% CI 78.7-87.2). A difficult intubation occurred in 3.4% (95% CI 1.9-6.1) and all patients were intubated orally in five or less attempts. A bougie was used in 30.9% (95% CI 25.8-36.5) of first attempts, whereas a stylet in 37.5% (95% CI 32.1-43.3). Complications occurred in 29.0% (95% CI 23.5-34.1) of the patients, with desaturation the commonest in 15.7% (95% CI 11.9-20.5). Cardiac arrest occurred in 2.2% (95% CI 0.9-4.4) after intubation. No surgical airways were undertaken.

CONCLUSION: Although the majority of results are comparable with overseas data, the rates of difficult laryngoscopy and desaturation are higher than previously reported. We feel that this data has highlighted the need for practice improvement within our department and we would encourage all those who undertake emergent airway management to audit their own practice of this high-risk procedure.

2. The factors associated with successful paediatric endotracheal intubation on the first attempt in emergency departments: a 13-emergency-department registry study
Resuscitation. 2012 Nov;83(11):1363-8


BACKGROUND: We investigated which factors are associated with successful paediatric endotracheal intubation (ETI) on the first attempt in emergency department (EDs) from multicentre emergency airway registry data.

METHODS: We created a multicentre registry of intubations at 13 EDs and performed surveillance over 5 years. Each intubator filled out a data form after an intubation. We defined “paediatric patients” as patients younger than 10 years of age. We assessed the specialty and level of training of intubator, the method, the equipment, and the associated adverse events. We analysed the intubation success rates on the first attempt (first-pass success, FPS) based on these variables.

RESULTS: A total of 430 ETIs were performed on 281 children seen in the ED. The overall FPS rate was 67.6%, but emergency medicine (EM) physicians showed a significantly greater success rate of 74.4%. In the logistic regression analysis, the intubator’s specialty was the only independent predictive factor for paediatric FPS. In the subgroup analysis, the EM physicians used the rapid sequence intubation/intubation (RSI) method and Macintosh laryngoscope more frequently than physicians of other specialties. ETI-related adverse events occurred in 21 (7.2%) out of the 281 cases. The most common adverse event in the FPS group was mainstem bronchus intubation, and vomiting was the most common event in the non-FPS group. The incidence of adverse events was lower in the FPS group than in the non-FPS group, but this difference was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: The intubator’s specialty was the major factor associated with FPS in emergency department paediatric ETI, The overall ETI FPS rate among paediatric patients was 67.6%, but the EM physicians had a FPS rate of 74.4%. A well structured airway skill training program, and more actively using the RSI method are important and this could explain this differences.

3.Rapid sequence intubation for pediatric emergency patients: higher frequency of failed attempts and adverse effects found by video review.
Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Sep;60(3):251-9


STUDY OBJECTIVE: Using video review, we seek to determine the frequencies of first-attempt success and adverse effects during rapid sequence intubation (RSI) in a large, tertiary care, pediatric emergency department (ED).

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study of children undergoing RSI in the ED of a pediatric institution. Data were collected from preexisting video and written records of care provided. The primary outcome was successful tracheal intubation on the first attempt at laryngoscopy. The secondary outcome was the occurrence of any adverse effect during RSI, including episodes of physiologic deterioration. We collected time data from the RSI process by using video review. We explored the association between physician type and first-attempt success.

RESULTS: We obtained complete records for 114 of 123 (93%) children who underwent RSI in the ED during 12 months. Median age was 2.4 years, and 89 (78%) were medical resuscitations. Of the 114 subjects, 59 (52%) were tracheally intubated on the first attempt. Seventy subjects (61%) had 1 or more adverse effects during RSI; 38 (33%) experienced oxyhemoglobin desaturation and 2 required cardiopulmonary resuscitation after physiologic deterioration. Fewer adverse effects were documented in the written records than were observed on video review. The median time from induction through final endotracheal tube placement was 3 minutes. After adjusting for patient characteristics and illness severity, attending-level providers were 10 times more likely to be successful on the first attempt than all trainees combined.

CONCLUSION: Video review of RSI revealed that first-attempt failure and adverse effects were much more common than previously reported for children in an ED.

4. A is for airway: a pediatric emergency department challenge.
Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Sep;60(3):261-3

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