Anaesthesiological airway management in Denmark: assessment, equipment and documentation

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2004 Mar;48(3):350-4. doi: 10.1111/j.0001-5172.2004.0337.x.


Background: Failed intubation remains one cause of anaesthesia-related morbidity and mortality. In a recent survey in Denmark, 20% of respondents reported preventable mishaps in airway management.

Methods: Assessment of the airway, and its documentation, as well as the availability of various equipment to manage a difficult airway, and the existence of a failed intubation plan were surveyed by mailing a questionnaire to the clinical directors of all 69 anaesthesia departments in Denmark.

Results: Fifty-six departments (81%) returned the questionnaire. Pre-operative airway evaluation is performed in 90% of the departments. The tests included the mouth-opening test (77%), Mallampati score (48%), lower jaw protrusion (34%), neck mobility (63%), the measurement of the thyromental (11%) and sternomental distance (4%). The result of the tests are documented by 38% of the departments in the anaesthetic chart (96%), in the record (54%), on a card given to the patient (23%), in a letter sent to the patient's general practitioner (2%) or in a database (13%). The patients are personally informed in 82% of the departments. Only 54% of the departments have a failed intubation plan readily available.

Conclusion: The preoperative assessment of the airways and its documentation is still unsatisfactory, as is communicating with the patient after a case of a difficult/impossible intubation. The adoption of internationally recognized recommendations might improve airway management and teaching to the best standard possible in the already well-equipped Danish anaesthetic departments.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Anesthesia Department, Hospital
  • Anesthesia*
  • Denmark
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / methods
  • Laryngeal Masks
  • Laryngoscopes
  • Mandible / physiology
  • Medical Records
  • Movement
  • Neck / anatomy & histology
  • Neck / physiology
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Respiration*