The Difficult Airway: Definitions and Algorithms

  • Zdravka Zafirova
  • Avery Tung


Maintaining a stable, patent airway is a fundamental element of acute care medical practice. While airway management is conceptually straightforward, the wide variety of clinical circumstances, patients, and tools can make the task of ensuring a stable, open airway under all clinical conditions extremely challenging. Care providers involved in airway management must therefore not only be technically skilled but also sufficiently flexible to adjust to changing conditions, risk/benefit balances, and goals. One aspect of airway management that requires particular attention is the airway that is difficult to secure or keep patent. For clinical or anatomic reasons, both bag mask ventilation and tracheal intubation in such a patient population may be difficult without specialized expertise or tools. Because adequate oxygen delivery through a patent airway is critical to life support and resuscitative efforts, the risks of inadequate airway management are high, adding to the challenge.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea Airway Management Difficult Airway Direct Laryngoscopy Difficult Intubation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesia & Critical CareThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesia & Critical CareThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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