Pediatric airway management

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2021 Jun 1;34(3):276-283. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000993.


Purpose of review: Children are at risk of severe hypoxemia in the perioperative period owing to their unique anatomy and physiology. Safe and effective airway management strategies are therefore key to the practice of pediatric anesthesia. The goal of this review is to highlight recent publications (2019-2021) aimed to advance pediatric airway safety and to highlight a proposed simple, pediatric-specific, universal framework to guide clinical practice.

Recent findings: Recent investigations demonstrate that infants with normal and difficult airways experience high incidences of multiple laryngoscopy attempts and resulting hypoxemia. Video laryngoscopy may improve tracheal intubation first attempt success rate in infants with normal airways. In infants with difficult airways, standard blade video laryngoscopy is associated with higher first attempt success rates over non-standard blade video laryngoscopy. Recent studies in children with Pierre Robin sequence and mucopolysaccharidoses help guide airway equipment and technique selection. Department airway leads and hospital difficult airway services are necessary to disseminate knowledge, lead quality improvement initiatives, and promote evidence-based practice guidelines.

Summary: Pediatric airway management morbidity is a common problem in pediatric anesthesia. Improvements in individual practitioner preparation and management strategies as well as systems-based policies are required. A simple, pediatric-specific, universal airway management framework can be adopted for safe pediatric anesthesia practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / etiology
  • Hypoxia / therapy
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Laryngoscopes*
  • Laryngoscopy