• Jameson L. Chassin


When a hospitalized patient requires the establishment of an airway in the upper respiratory tract under emergency conditions, the first priority is to achieve endotracheal intubation, generally through the mouth, with a laryngoscope. In situations where endotracheal intubation cannot be established with great rapidity, an immediate cricothyroidotomy or tracheotomy is indicated. Of these two procedures, we agree with Boyd, Romita, Conlan, Fink, and associates that cricothyroidotomy has many advantages over tracheotomy under emergency conditions. The cricothyroid membrane is situated directly under the skin with no intervening tissues, such as muscle and the thyroid isthmus, which are encountered during tracheotomy. Cricothyroidotomy is easily learned and can be performed very rapidly with minimal risk. It involves an incision in the membrane between the lower border of the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage for purposes of tracheal intubation. Utilized under proper conditions, it has been demonstrated to be safe in a series of 655 cases reported by Brantigan and Grow (1976) and in another series of 147 cases reported by Boyd and associates.


Tracheal Intubation Endotracheal Intubation Thyroid Cartilage Emergency Condition Cricoid Cartilage 
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  1. Boyd AD, Romita M, Conlan A, Fink S et al. (1979) A clinical evaluation of cricothyroidotomy. Surg Gynecol Obstet 149: 365PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Brantigan CO, Grow JB (1976) Cricothyroidotomy: elective use in respiratory problems requiring tracheotomy. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 71: 72PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brantigan CO, Grow JB (1982) Subglottic stenosis after cricothyroidotomy. Surgery 91: 217PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jameson L. Chassin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.New York University School of MedicineUSA
  2. 2.Booth Memorial Medical CenterFlushingUSA
  3. 3.University Hospital, New York University Medical CenterUSA
  4. 4.New York Veterans Administration HospitalUSA
  5. 5.Bellevue HospitalUSA

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