Emergency department management of the airway in obese adults

Ann Emerg Med. 2010 Aug;56(2):95-104. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2010.03.011. Epub 2010 Apr 3.


Airway management in obese adults can be challenging, and much of the literature on this subject focuses on elective surgical cases, rather than acutely ill patients. In this article, we review the emergency department evaluation of the airway in obesity, discussing anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. In addition, we describe techniques and devices used to improve intubating conditions in the obese patient. After our review of the relevant literature, we conclude that research in this particular area of acute care remains in its infancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics / administration & dosage
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Laryngeal Masks
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Obesity* / complications
  • Obesity* / physiopathology
  • Obesity* / surgery
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Posture
  • Respiration, Artificial* / methods


  • Anesthetics