Use of Handheld Point-of-Care Ultrasound in Emergency Airway Management

Chest. 2021 Mar;159(3):1155-1165. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.09.083. Epub 2020 Sep 21.


Emergency airway management (EAM) is associated with a high rate of complications, morbidity, and mortality. Handheld point-of-care ultrasound shows promise as an emerging technology to facilitate rapid screening for difficult laryngoscopy, identify the cricothyroid membrane for potential cricothyroidotomy, and assess for increased aspiration risk, as well as provide confirmation of proper endotracheal tube positioning. This review summarizes the available evidence for the use of point-of-care ultrasound in EAM, provides an algorithm to facilitate its incorporation into existing EAM practice to improve patient safety, and serves as a framework for future validation studies.

Keywords: POCUS; airway management; emergency airway management; intubation; point-of-care ultrasound; ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management* / instrumentation
  • Airway Management* / methods
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Ultrasonography* / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonography* / methods