A Proposed Guideline for Performance of Emergency Surgical Airways in Small Animals: Analysis of Five Unsuccessfully Managed Cannot Intubate, Cannot Oxygenate Cases

Vet Sci. 2022 Jan 22;9(2):39. doi: 10.3390/vetsci9020039.


Objective-To describe three dogs and two cats diagnosed with a cannot intubate, cannot oxygenate (CICO) condition, and discuss the appropriateness and timing of emergency front-of-neck airway access (eFONA). The authors aim to increase awareness of CICO events and effective management strategies, which may result in faster airway access and improve patient outcomes. Case series summary-Three dogs and two cats could not be easily intubated resulting in the inability to deliver oxygen and contributing to their death. Emergency front-of-neck airway access was attempted in three cases, it could not be performed in one when indicated, and it was not considered in managing another. Conclusions-This is the first report of small animals suffering CICO emergencies and tracheostomy attempts without a concurrently secured airway. Cannot intubate, cannot oxygenate events and eFONA attempts were managed sub-optimally in all cases, which likely contributed to the poor outcomes. Rapid diagnosis of CICO and early eFONA using appropriate techniques has the potential to improve the management of difficult airways in small animals.

Keywords: CICO; difficult airway; hypoxia; intubation; tracheostomy.