Airway Tip O' The Day

A colleague on flight had a horrendous trip the other day to a blast site. One victim was talking, had normal vital signs, but was hoarse and covered in black soot from the neck up due to the blast.

An indication for a tube if ever there was one; it had only been sixty minutes or so from the time of the blast and already she was unable to pass a tube a full size smaller than needed, and saved his life with a rescue device instead (a King LT). Which leads to the airway tip o' the day.

A bougie is a long, flexible plastic thingee used to find the trachea by feel and by the bend at its end, over which you can then pass a tube. Usually I think of it as a means to improve an airway with a bad view. She had a great view; he was just too swollen.

The tip is to use a bougie even with a great view in the setting of airway edema; if you can't pass a tube over the bougie, leave it in place, go one size down, continuing until you pass something.

Of course, this being the great frozen north, it was seven degrees where she was trying to intubate without the windchill, so the bougie probably would've snapped. The O2 tubing had already frozen. Sweet. Can't wait to start flying.

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