Performing an emergency surgical airway is one of the most challenging skills for any critical care doctor. It is a skill usually reserved for the most unstable, rapidly deteriorating patients and is a last resort for obtaining a patent airway. This is complicated by the fact that few people practice this skill frequently enough to feel comfortable performing it in an emergency setting. Emergency surgical airways are also challenging due to the anatomy of blood vessels and nerves surrounding the cricothyroid membrane and the associated high risk of injury to other structures.
In this video, EmCrit’s Scott Weingart (@emcrit) demonstrates his tactile technique for establishing an emergency surgical airway. One of the biggest issues people face is poor visibility due to the bleeding that inevitably occurs following the initiial incision. In this simple, step-by-step guide Scott Weingart outlines how to overcome this by feeling for important landmarks and modifying technique to ensure a successful procedure every time. As participants each practice this technique Scott Weingart offers troubleshooting tips to help manage even the most difficult airway. If you have any other tips, please share them below!