Difficult airway management practice patterns among anesthesiologists practicing in the United States: Have we made any progress?

Tiberiu Ezri, Peter Szmuk, R. David Warters, Jeffrey Katz, Carin A. Hagberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Study Objective: To determine the extent instruction and practice in the use of airway devices and techniques varies among anesthesiologists practicing in the United States. Design: Survey questionnaire. Setting: University medical center. Measurements: Questionnaires were completed by American-trained anesthesiologists who attended the 1999 American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Annual Meeting. Data collected included demographics, education, skills with airway devices/techniques, management of clinical difficult airway scenarios, and the use of the ASA Difficult Airway Algorithm. Main Results: 1) Demographics: 452 questionnaires were correctly completed; 62% attending anesthesiologists, 70% <50 years, 81% males, 44% from academic institutions, 63% >10 years of practice, 81% night duty, 77% board certified. 2) Education: 71% had at least one educational modality: difficult airway rotation, workshops, conferences, books, and simulators. 3) Skills: Miller blade 61%, Bullard laryngoscope 32%, LMA™ 86%, Combitube™ 43%, bougie 43%, exchangers 47%, cuffed oropharyngeal airway (COPA) 34%, retrograde 41%, transtracheal needle jet ventilation 34%, cricothyrotomy 21%, fiberoptics 59%, and blind nasal intubation 78%. The average reported use of special airway devices/techniques was 47.5%. 4) Management choices: failed intubation/ ventilation: LMA™ (81%) and for all other situations: fiberoptic intubation. Use of ASA Difficult Airway Algorithm in clinical practice (86%). Conclusion: Fiberoptic intubation and the LMA™ are most popular in management of the difficult airway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-422
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Airway management
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Equipment and supplies: airway devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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