Optimizing education in difficult airway management: meeting the challenge

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The last 2 decades have seen a vast change in the science and technology of airway management. As a result, there is an increasing need to equip anesthesiologists with the new knowledge and skills for the safe management of a difficult airway.

Recent findings

In addition to knowledge and expertise, human factors and nontechnical skills (NTS), including situational awareness, communication and team work, play an important role during difficult airway management and contribute to the outcome. Didactic sessions are useful to impart knowledge. Self-learning, interactive discussions, simulation and debriefing are important tools for teaching and training in difficult airway management. Manikin training and simulation enable development of technical as well as NTS without subjecting patients to risk and allow multiple training sessions of relatively uncommon scenarios. Guidelines are useful teaching tools, whereas cognitive tools such as the Vortex approach may be useful during a difficult airway.

Summary

There is need for research on difficult airway management and optimized training methods. Research is also required to determine the barriers to adoption of guidelines and strategies to ensure widespread dissemination and implementation of guidelines and best practices for difficult airway management.

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