Lack of national consensus in preoperative airway assessment

Anders Kehlet Nørskov, Charlotte V Rosenstock, Lars H Lundstrøm

6 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Difficult airway management is associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Several preoperative risk factors associated with airway management difficulties have been proposed; however, no clear guideline for airway assessments exists. We therefore hypothesised that Danish airway assessment was lacking uniformity. We aimed to examine whether multivariable risk assessment tools and predictors for difficult intubation and mask ventilation were used systematically.

METHODS: Heads of anaesthesia departments were sent a six-question survey at the beginning of 2012. We asked if systematic risk assessment tools, particularly the Simplified Airway Risk Index (SARI), and predictors for difficult intubation and mask ventilation were used. Additionally, we asked if any risk factors were pre-printed on the anaesthesia record.

RESULTS: In all, 29 of 31 (94%) departments responded. The SARI was implemented in 8 of 29 (28%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 15-46%) departments with major regional differences. There was no significant association between using the SARI and a reduced number of unanticipated difficult intubation (p = 0.06). Mallampati classification (95.2%, 95% CI: 77.3-99.2%), history of airway management difficulties (85.7%, 95% CI: 65.4-95.0%), ability to prognath (81.0%, 95% CI: 60.0-92.3%) and neck mobility (81.0%, 95% CI: 60.0-92.3%) were the main predictors registered.

CONCLUSION: We found considerable inter-departmental variance in the standards employed for airway assessment and no uniform pattern in the registration of risk factors for airway management difficulties. Better prediction of difficult intubation could not be detected in departments that used the SARI.

FUNDING: none.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberA5278
JournalDanish Medical Bulletin (Online)
Issue number10
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


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