Relative risk analysis of factors associated with difficult intubation in obstetric anesthesia

Anesthesiology. 1992 Jul;77(1):67-73. doi: 10.1097/00000542-199207000-00010.


Difficult tracheal intubation, often unexpected, has been identified as the commonest contributory factor to anesthetic-related maternal death. The ability to predict such cases preoperatively would be of great value. Preoperative airway assessment and potential risk factors for difficult tracheal intubation were recorded in 1,500 patients undergoing emergency and elective cesarean section under general anesthesia. Airway assessment using a modified Mallampati test recorded oropharyngeal structures visible upon maximal mouth opening. Potential risk factors documented were obesity; short neck; missing, protruding, or single maxillary incisors; receding mandible; facial edema; and swollen tongue. Subsequent to induction of anesthesia, the view at laryngoscopy and difficulty at intubation were graded. There was a significant (P less than 0.001) correlation between the oropharyngeal structures seen and both the veiw at laryngoscopy and difficulty at intubation. Univariate analysis demonstrated a significant association between difficult intubation and short neck (P less than 0.001), obesity (P less than 0.0001), missing maxillary incisors (P less than 0.02), protruding maxillary incisors (P less than 0.001), single maxillary incisor (P less than 0.0001), and receding mandible (P less than 0.003). Neither facial edema (P = 0.414) nor swollen tongue (P = 0.141) were found to be associated with difficult intubation. Multivariate analysis removed obesity and missing and single maxillary incisors as risk factors. Obesity was eliminated because of its strong association with short neck. The probability of experiencing a difficult intubation for various combinations of risk factors was determined.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Anesthesia, Obstetrical*
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal*
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors