Introduction: The goal of emergency airway management is first pass success without adverse events (FPS-AE). Anatomically difficult airways are well appreciated to be an obstacle to this goal. However, little is known about the effect of the physiologically difficult airway with regard to FPS-AE. This study evaluates the effects of both anatomically and physiologically difficult airways on FPS-AE in patients undergoing rapid sequence intubation (RSI) in the emergency department (ED). Methods: We analyzed prospectively recorded intubations in a continuous quality improvement database between July 1, 2014-June 30, 2018. Emergency medicine (EM) or emergency medicine/pediatric (EM-PEDS) residents recorded patient, operator, and procedural characteristics on all consecutive adult RSIs performed using a direct or video laryngoscope. The presence of specific anatomically and physiologically difficult airway characteristics were also documented by the operator. Patients were analyzed in four cohorts: 1) no anatomically or physiologically difficult airway characteristics; 2) one or more anatomically difficult airway characteristics; 3) one or more physiologically difficult airway characteristics; and 4) both anatomically and physiologically difficult airway characteristics. The primary outcome was FPS-AE. We performed a multivariable logistic regression analysis to determine the association between anatomically difficult airways or physiologically difficult airways and FPS-AE. Results: A total of 1513 intubations met inclusion criteria and were analyzed. FPS-AE for patients without any difficult airway characteristics was 92.4%, but reduced to 82.1% (difference = - 10.3%, 95% confidence interval (CI), - 14.8% to - 5.6%) with the presence of one or more anatomically difficult airway characteristics, and 81.7% (difference = - 10.7%, 95% CI, - 17.3% to - 4.0%) with the presence of one or more physiologically difficult airway characteristics. FPS-AE was further reduced to 70.9% (difference = - 21.4%, 95% CI, - 27.0% to - 16.0%) with the presence of both anatomically and physiologically difficult airway characteristics. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of FPS-AE was 0.37 [95% CI, 0.21 - 0.66] in patients with anatomically difficult airway characteristics and 0.36 [95% CI, 0.19 - 0.67] for patients with physiologically difficult airway characteristics, compared to patients with no difficult airway characteristics. Patients who had both anatomically and physiologically difficult airway characteristics had a further decreased aOR of FPS-AE of 0.19 [95% CI, 0.11 - 0.33]. Conclusion: FPS-AE is reduced to a similar degree in patients with anatomically and physiologically difficult airways. Operators should assess and plan for potential physiologic difficulty as is routinely done for anatomically difficulty airways. Optimization strategies to improve FPS-AE for patients with physiologically difficult airways should be studied in randomized controlled trials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine