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Emergency airway puncture


Alternative names

Emergency airway puncture; Needle cricothyrotomy

Definition

This is an emergency incision, or insertion of a hollow needle, into the airway (larynx). It is used to treat life-threatening choking.

Description

In an emergency situation, when someone is choking and all other efforts to assist with breathing have failed, a hollow needle can be inserted into the throat, just below the Adam's apple (cricoid cartilage). In hospital settings, a small skin incision may be made before inserting the needle or tube.

Indications

A cricothyrotomy is recommended as an emergency procedure to relieve an airway obstruction until surgical placement of a breathing tube ( tracheostomy ) can be done.

Risks

Risks for any surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Additional risks include:

  • Trauma to the larynx, thyroid gland, or esophagus

Expectations after surgery

Emergency airway puncture (cricothyrotomy) can be quite effective in relieving an airway obstruction.

Convalescence

See tracheostomy .

Update Date: 10/27/2003

James L. Demetroulakos M.D. F.A.C.S., Department Of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT
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