Rapid sequence anesthesia induction for emergency intubation

Pediatr Emerg Care. 1990 Sep;6(3):200-13. doi: 10.1097/00006565-199009000-00010.


Emergency intubations are done for a variety of reasons in the emergency department (ED). In some patients, a rapid, controlled induction of anesthesia is useful to facilitate intubation and to reduce the complications of intubation. This is referred to a rapid sequence induction (RSI) in the anesthesia literature. Atropine, thiopental, fentanyl, diazepam, ketamine, vecuronium, succinylcholine, other drugs and their applications for RSI are described. The purpose of this article is to describe the use of RSI in the airway management of ED patients. Nineteen pediatric patients requiring emergency intubation were intubated using RSI with vecuronium and thiopental. Actual intubation difficulty using RSI was significantly less than the anticipated intubation difficulty without RSI. There were no complications caused by intubation or RSI that had a significant impact on patient outcome. We feel that a sedative in combination with vecuronium represents the most optimal means of achieving RSI in the ED setting. Although the induction of general anesthesia is best done by anesthesiologists, emergency physicians are often the most experienced physicians immediately available to manage an airway in a critical emergency. An objective protocol such as that described will make it easier for emergency physicians to perform this procedure when needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Intravenous / instrumentation
  • Anesthesia, Intravenous / methods*
  • Atropine / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Protocols / standards*
  • Emergencies*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Thiopental / therapeutic use
  • Vecuronium Bromide / therapeutic use


  • Atropine
  • Vecuronium Bromide
  • Thiopental