Objectives: ENT surgeons and anesthesiologists work closely together in managing challenging airway cases. Sharing knowledge, experiences, and expectations interdisciplinary is essential in order to facilitate decision-making and adequate management in emergency front-of-neck airway cases.
Methods: A survey was performed, to analyze level of experience, technique of preference, training, knowledge of material and protocols, and self-efficacy scores of Dutch ENT surgeons and residents in performing an urgent or emergency front-of-neck airway.
Results: Within one year (January 2014-2015), 25.7% of the 257 respondents had performed an urgent or emergency front-of-neck airway. Of all reported emergency front-of-neck airways (N = 30), 80% were managed by tracheotomy. In future emergency front-of-neck airway cases, 74% stated cricothyrotomy would be their technique of preference. The majority would choose an uncuffed large-bore cannula technique. Post-academic hands-on training was attended by 42% of respondents. Self-efficacy scores were highest for surgical tracheotomy, and higher when trained or experienced. In case of an emergency scenario, 8.6% would not perform a front-of-neck airway themselves. The main reasons for reluctance to start in general were lack of experience and lack of training. Reported items for improvement were mainly the development of a protocol and training.
Conclusion: The chance of encountering an airway emergency scenario requiring front-of-neck airway is realistic. There is inconsistency between advised technique, technique of preference and technique actually performed by ENT surgeons. This study shows that there is both a need and desire for improvement in training and organization of care. Interdisciplinary guidelines and education is needed and could eventually safe lives.
Level of evidence: 5.