Submental intubation: A journey over the last 25 years

J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Jul;28(3):291-303. doi: 10.4103/0970-9185.98320.

Abstract

Airway management in patients with faciomaxillary injuries is challenging due to disruption of components of upper airway. The anesthesiologist has to share the airway with the surgeons. Oral and nasal routes for intubation are often not feasible. Most patients have associated nasal fractures, which precludes use of nasal route of intubation. Intermittent intraoperative dental occlusion is needed to check alignment of the fracture fragments, which contraindicates the use of orotracheal intubation. Tracheostomy in such situations is conventional and time-tested; however, it has life-threatening complications, it needs special postoperative care, lengthens hospital stay, and adds to expenses. Retromolar intubation may be an option, But the retromolar space may not be adequate in all adult patients. Submental intubation provides intraoperative airway control, avoids use of oral and nasal route, with minimal complications. Submental intubation allows intraoperative dental occlusion and is an acceptable option, especially when long-term postoperative ventilation is not planned. This technique has minimal complications and has better patients' and surgeons' acceptability. There have been several modifications of this technique with an expectation of an improved outcome. The limitations are longer time for preparation, inability to maintain long-term postoperative ventilation and unfamiliarity of the technique itself. The technique is an acceptable alternative to tracheostomy for the good per-operative airway access.

Keywords: Adult; intratracheal methods; intubation; maxillofacial injuries/surgery; oral/methods; surgery.