Introduction: Percutaneous transtracheal jet ventilation (PTJV) with a large-bore angiocath that is inserted through the cricothyroid membrane can provide immediate oxygenation from a high-pressure (50 lb per square inch) oxygen wall outlet, as well as ventilation by means of manual triggering. The objective of this retrospective study is to highlight the potential benefit of PTJV as a temporary lifesaving procedure during difficult situations when oral endotracheal intubation is unsuccessful and bag-valve-mask ventilation is ineffective for oxygenation during acute respiratory failure.
Methods: The medical records of 29 consecutive patients who required emergent PTJV within the past 4 years were reviewed. PTJV was required because the pulse O(2) saturation could not be maintained at > 90% with bag-mask-valve ventilation and because the airway could not be secured quickly with direct laryngoscopy.
Results: The cricothyroid membrane was cannulated successfully in 23 patients. In these patients, pulse O(2) saturation was raised to > 90% and was maintained with PTJV until the airway was secured. All but 3 of the 23 patients were subsequently intubated orally. In one patient, PTJV maintained adequate gas exchange until an emergent tracheostomy was performed. In two patients, airway exchange catheters were inserted into the trachea due to a small glottic aperture. The endotracheal tube was slid over the catheter. In 6 of the 29 patients, there was difficulty inserting a catheter through the cricothyroid membrane or there was inability to insufflate the oxygen with a jet ventilator. There were no immediate fatalities from the use of PTJV.
Conclusion: Based on the subsequent insertion of an endotracheal tube into the trachea, there were two important benefits in the patients who underwent PTJV successfully. First, PTJV provided effective oxygenation, while allowing adequate time for upper airway visualization and possible suctioning of oropharyngeal secretions. Second, tracheal intubation was subsequently easier, possibly because the high tracheal pressure from the gas insufflation opened the collapsed glottis, making visualization of the glottic aperture better. PTJV is safe and quick in providing immediate oxygenation, and therefore should be considered as an alternative to insistent, multiple intubation attempts, when neither bag-mask-valve ventilation nor endotracheal intubation is feasible in providing adequate gas exchange.