Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the occurrence of a difficult intubation and (1) the use of neuromuscular blocking agents (NMB) and (2) the presence of airway injuries. It is a retrospective analysis of data from a trauma registry.
Materials and methods: Registry records of patients (n = 160) who required emergent endotracheal intubation or establishment of a surgical airway over a 3.5-year period in the emergency department were reviewed. Risk factors for difficult intubations were identified and analyzed using multivariate logistic regression analysis.
Results: NMB were used in 75% of patients requiring intubation. Fifteen percent of the intubations were considered difficult. No association was found between the presence of airway injuries and difficult intubations; however, the use of succinylcholine was associated with a lower risk of difficult intubations compared with intubations where a nondepolarizing NMB was used.
Conclusions: The use of succinylcholine may result in fewer difficult intubations in the trauma patient than when a nondepolarizing NMB is used. The presence of airway injuries did not appear to predispose to difficult intubations.