Expert consensus on difficult airway assessment

Hepatobiliary Surg Nutr. 2023 Aug 1;12(4):545-566. doi: 10.21037/hbsn-23-46. Epub 2023 May 19.


Background: Identifying a potentially difficult airway is crucial both in anaesthesia in the operating room (OR) and non-operation room sites. There are no guidelines or expert consensus focused on the assessment of the difficult airway before, so this expert consensus is developed to provide guidance for airway assessment, making this process more standardized and accurate to reduce airway-related complications and improve safety.

Methods: Seven members from the Airway Management Group of the Chinese Society of Anaesthesiology (CSA) met to discuss the first draft and then this was sent to 15 international experts for review, comment, and approval. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) is used to determine the level of evidence and grade the strength of recommendations. The recommendations were revised through a three-round Delphi survey from experts.

Results: This expert consensus provides a comprehensive approach to airway assessment based on the medical history, physical examination, comprehensive scores, imaging, and new developments including transnasal endoscopy, virtual laryngoscopy, and 3D printing. In addition, this consensus also reviews some new technologies currently under development such as prediction from facial images and voice information with the aim of proposing new research directions for the assessment of difficult airway.

Conclusions: This consensus applies to anesthesiologists, critical care, and emergency physicians refining the preoperative airway assessment and preparing an appropriate intubation strategy for patients with a potentially difficult airway.

Keywords: Expert consensus; airway management; difficult airway.

Publication types

  • Review