Cannula cricothyroidotomy is recommended for emergency transtracheal ventilation by all current airway guidelines. Success with this technique depends on the accurate and rapid identification of percutaneous anatomical landmarks. Six healthy subjects underwent neck ultrasound to delineate the borders of the cricothyroid membrane. The midline and bisecting transverse planes through the membrane were marked with an invisible ink pen which could be revealed with an ultraviolet light. Eighteen anaesthetists were then invited to mark an entry point for cricothyroid membrane puncture. Only 32 (30%) attempts by anaesthetists accurately marked the skin area over the cricothyroid membrane. Of these only 11 (10%) marked over the centre point of the membrane. Entry point accuracy was not significantly affected by subjects' weight, height, body mass index, neck circumference or cricothyroid dimensions. Consultant and registrar anaesthetists were significantly more accurate than senior house officers at correctly identifying the cricothyroid membrane. Accuracy of percutaneously identifying the cricothyroid membrane was poor. Ultrasound may assist in identifying anatomical landmarks for cricothyroidotomy.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.