The Airway Approach Algorithm: a decision tree for organizing preoperative airway information

J Clin Anesth. 2004 Jun;16(4):312-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2003.09.005.


Anticipatory decision-making in airway management requires the integration of both history and physical examination findings. Though all airways can be managed along some branch of the American Society of Anesthesiologists' (ASA) Difficult Airway Algorithm, by predicting specific difficulties and integrating this information into an airway approach strategy, emergency branches of the ASA algorithm may be avoided. The Airway Approach Algorithm (AAA) consists of five clinical questions, with "yes" or "no" answers, to be addressed prior to the management of the airway. A positive answer to any question leads the clinician to the next, whereas a negative answer directs the operator to a root point of the ASA algorithm. The AAA is introduced with the anticipation that trainees in Anesthesiology, as well as others, will find it helpful in organizing preoperative information concerning the airway.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / prevention & control
  • Anesthesiology / methods
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*