High-Risk Airway Management in the Emergency Department: Diseases and Approaches, Part II

Skyler Lentz, Alexandra Grossman, Alex Koyfman, Brit Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Successful airway management is critical to the practice of emergency medicine. Thus, emergency physicians must be ready to optimize and prepare for airway management in critically ill patients with a wide range of physiologic challenges. Challenges in airway management commonly encountered in the emergency department are discussed using a pearl and pitfall discussion in this second part of a 2-part series. Objective: This narrative review presents an evidence-based approach to airway and patient management during endotracheal intubation in challenging cases commonly encountered in the emergency department. Discussion: Adverse events during emergent airway management are common with postintubation cardiac arrest, reported in as many as 1 in 25 intubations. Many of these adverse events can be avoided by proper identification and understanding the underlying physiology, preparation, and postintubation management. Those with high-risk features including trauma, elevated intracranial pressure, upper gastrointestinal bleed, cardiac tamponade, aortic stenosis, morbid obesity, and pregnancy must be managed with airway expertise. Conclusions: This narrative review discusses the pearls and pitfalls of commonly encountered physiologic high-risk intubations with a focus on the emergency clinician.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-585
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • airway
  • aortic stenosis
  • cardiac tamponade
  • elevated intracranial pressure
  • morbid obesity
  • postintubation cardiac arrest
  • pregnancy
  • trauma
  • upper gastrointestinal bleed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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