Paediatric airway management: basic aspects

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Paediatric airway management is a great challenge, especially for anaesthesiologists working in departments with a low number of paediatric surgical procedures. The paediatric airway is substantially different from the adult airway and obstruction leads to rapid desaturation in infants and small children. This paper aims at providing the non-paediatric anaesthesiologist with a set of safe and simple principles for basic paediatric airway management. In contrast to adults, most children with difficult airways are recognised before induction of anaesthesia but problems may arise in all children. Airway obstruction can be avoided by paying close attention to the positioning of the head of the child and by keeping the mouth of the child open during mask ventilation. The use of oral and nasopharyngeal airways, laryngeal mask airways, and cuffed endotracheal tubes is discussed with special reference to the circumstances in infants. A slightly different technique during laryngoscopy is suggested. The treatment of airway oedema and laryngospasm is described.

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