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.
2009 American College of Emergency Physicians. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.