Background: Dental injury is well-recognized as a potential complication of laryngoscopy and tracheal intubation. However, the frequency, outcomes, and risk factors for this problem have not been documented in a well-defined patient population.
Methods: The authors analyzed the dental injuries of 598,904 consecutive cases performed on patients who required anesthetic services from 1987 through 1997. Dental injuries were defined as perianesthetic events (those occurring within 7 days) that required dental interventions to repair, stabilize, or extract involved dentition or support structures. A 1:3 case-control study of 16 patient and procedural characteristics was performed for cases that occurred during the first 5 yr of the study. Conditional logistic regression was used for data analysis.
Results: There were 132 cases (1:4,537 patients) of dental injury. One half of these injuries occurred during laryngoscopy and tracheal intubation. The upper incisors were the most commonly involved teeth, and most injuries were crown fractures and partial dislocations and dislodgements. Multivariate risk factors for dental injury in the case control study included general anesthesia with tracheal intubation (odds ratio [OR] = 89), preexisting poor dentition (OR = 50), and increased difficulty of laryngoscopy and intubation (OR = 11).
Conclusions: Based on these data from a large surgical population at a single training institution, approximately 1:4,500 patients who receive anesthesia services sustain a dental injury that requires repair or extraction. Patients most at risk for perianesthetic dental injury include those with preexisting poor dentition who have one or more risk factors for difficult laryngoscopy and tracheal intubation.