Role of ultrasound in the airway management of critically ill patients

Crit Care Med. 2007 May;35(5 Suppl):S173-7. doi: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000260628.88402.8A.


Ultrasound imaging of the upper airway in critically ill patients offers a number of attractive advantages compared with competitive imaging techniques or endoscopy. It is widely available, portable, repeatable, relatively inexpensive, pain-free, and safe. In this review article, I describe ultrasonographic anatomy of the upper respiratory organs and present the main potential applications of ultrasonography in airway management. The role of ultrasound in endotracheal tube placement, including preintubation assessment, verification of tube position, double-lumen intubation, and extubation outcome, are explained. Also, ultrasound-guided percutaneous tracheostomy, the role of ultrasound in using the laryngeal mask airway, and upper airway anesthesia are described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Laryngeal Masks
  • Tracheostomy / methods
  • Ultrasonography*