Laryngospasm is a Life-Threatening Emergency

One of the more frightening events in anesthesia is laryngospasm – the protective, reflex, spasmodic closure of the vocal cords that occurs when the vocal cords are stimulated. When laryngospasm occurs, vocal cord closure can be so forceful that it can prevent all ventilation or even the passage of the endotracheal tube. Life-threatening hypoxia can quickly follow. Other potential complications include post obstructive pulmonary edema, and possibly even cardiac arrest. This post discusses the different muscle actions that combine to make laryngospasm create dangerous airway obstruction.

Opioid Induced Respiratory Depression: A Balance in the Force

Postoperative opioid-induced respiratory depression is common and results from an imbalance in the forces of arousal vs the forces of sedation. Opioid induced respiratory depression requiring treatment can occur to any patient at any time, and under the care of any provider — from novice to experienced. You must understand the forces of sedation and arousal and be constantly vigilant to keep your patients safe.

Tricks For LMA Insertion

The LMA provides an alternate means to ventilate a patient during surgery — without intubation and while freeing the provider’s hands from having to hold the mask. It provides a more secure airway that makes gastric distention less likely. Since its invention, the LMA has since become quite valuable as a rescue device in situations when intubation may be difficult — even for the inexperienced. Let’s talk about some tips for successful insertion.

Using Straight Laryngoscopy Blades

Intubation by direct laryngoscopy depends on using the laryngoscope blade to give you a clear field of view of the larynx by shifting the tongue and other pharyngeal structures out of the way. As you might imagine, the patient’s anatomy, pathology, or position can sometimes make this visualization difficult. Laryngoscopy blades come in different shapes to help manage these various situations.

Dr. Christine Whitten

photo of Dr. Christine Whitten MD

Anesthesiologist, Educator, Author dedicated to improving patient care and safety