Difficult Airway Society guidelines for management of the unanticipated difficult intubation

Anaesthesia. 2004 Jul;59(7):675-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2044.2004.03831.x.


Problems with tracheal intubation are infrequent but are the most common cause of anaesthetic death or brain damage. The clinical situation is not always managed well. The Difficult Airway Society (DAS) has developed guidelines for management of the unanticipated difficult tracheal intubation in the non-obstetric adult patient without upper airway obstruction. These guidelines have been developed by consensus and are based on evidence and experience. We have produced flow-charts for three scenarios: routine induction; rapid sequence induction; and failed intubation, increasing hypoxaemia and difficult ventilation in the paralysed, anaesthetised patient. The flow-charts are simple, clear and definitive. They can be fully implemented only when the necessary equipment and training are available. The guidelines received overwhelming support from the membership of the DAS.

Disclaimer: It is not intended that these guidelines should constitute a minimum standard of practice, nor are they to be regarded as a substitute for good clinical judgement.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Anesthesia, General / methods
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / therapy
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Treatment Failure