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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 470-475

Tracheal intubation in the ICU: Life saving or life threatening?


Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Jigeeshu V Divatia
Department of Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain, Tata Memorial Hospital, Dr. E. Borges Marg, Parel, Mumbai 400 012, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.89872

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Tracheal intubation (TI) is a routine procedure in the intensive care unit (ICU), and is often life saving. However, life-threatening complications occur in a significant proportion of procedures, making TI perhaps one the most common but underappreciated airway emergencies in the ICU. In contrast to the controlled conditions in the operating room (OR), the unstable physiologic state of critically ill patients along with underevaluation of the airways and suboptimal response to pre-oxygenation are the major factors for the high incidence of life-threatening complications like severe hypoxaemia and cardiovascular collapse in the ICU. Studies have shown that strategies planned for TI in the OR can be adapted and extrapolated for use in the ICU. Non-invasive positive-pressure ventilation for pre-oxygenation provides adequate oxygen stores during TI for patients with precarious respiratory pathology. The intubation procedure should include not only airway management but also haemodynamic, gas exchange and neurologic care, which are often crucial in critically ill patients. Hence, there is a necessity for the implementation of an Intubation Bundle during routine airway management in the ICU. Adherence to a plan for difficult airway management incorporating the use of intubation aids and airway rescue devices and strategies is useful.


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