Assessment of Oropharyngeal Distance in Children Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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Rational determination of oral airway size in children must account for the oropharyngeal length.We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the distance from the teeth/gums to the prevertebral pharyngeal space and created algorithms to predict this distance based on age, weight, and gender. After institutional review board approval, we reviewed 200 MRI head scans of children 0-17 yr old. Patient information, including midline distance from teeth/gums to prevertebral space (L1) and distance along a perpendicular line from L1 to the epiglottis tip (L2), was recorded. Two groups (Group 1 (n = 100) training group, Group 2 (n = 100) validation group) were then randomly selected from this sample. Predictive models created using Group 1 were tested using Group 2 as the sample group. Oropharyngeal distance was related to age, weight, and gender. A prediction Equation usingall data was estimated to determine the final model: predicted L1 = 5.51 + 0.25 (age [years]) -0.01 (age2) + 0.02 (weight [kg]) + 0.12 (male). We report equations to predict the oropharyngeal distance based on age, weight, and gender in children. The oral airway size will be 1-2 cm longer than these measurements to position the tooth/lip guard outside the lip. Variability in the distance to the epiglottis must be considered when selecting proper oral airway size for any child. This information will provide the foundation for a more rational determination of the proper oral airway size for infants and children. Implications: Age, weight, and gender can be used to predict the length of the oropharynx in children as determined by midline sagittal magnetic resonance image of the airway. Prediction of this length will lead to a more rational determination of proper oral airway size for infants and children and, potentially, more effective airway management.

(Anesth Analg 1998;87:1048-51)

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