alexa Crisis management during anaesthesia: laryngospasm.


Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research

Author(s): Visvanathan T, Kluger MT, Webb RK, Westhorpe RN

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Abstract BACKGROUND: Laryngospasm is usually easily detected and managed, but may present atypically and/or be precipitated by factors which are not immediately recognised. If poorly managed, it has the potential to cause morbidity and mortality such as severe hypoxaemia, pulmonary aspiration, and post-obstructive pulmonary oedema. OBJECTIVES: To examine the role of a previously described core algorithm "COVER ABCD-A SWIFT CHECK", supplemented by a specific sub-algorithm for laryngospasm, in the management of laryngospasm occurring in association with anaesthesia. METHODS: The potential performance of this structured approach for the relevant incidents amongst the first 4000 reported to the Australian Incident Monitoring Study (AIMS) was compared with the actual management as reported by the anaesthetists involved. RESULTS: There were 189 reports of laryngospasm among the first 4000 incidents reported to AIMS. These were extracted and analysed. In 77\% of cases laryngospasm was clinically obvious, but 14\% presented as airway obstruction, 5\% as regurgitation or vomiting, and 4\% as desaturation. Most were precipitated by direct airway stimulation (airway manipulation, regurgitation, vomiting, or blood or secretions in the pharynx), but patient movement, surgical stimulus, irritant volatile agents, and failure to deliver the anaesthetic were also precipitating factors. Desaturation occurred in over 60\% of cases, bradycardia in 6\% (23\% in patients aged <1 year), pulmonary oedema in 4\%, and pulmonary aspiration in 3\%. It was considered that, correctly applied, the combined core algorithm and sub-algorithm recommended for the diagnosis and management of laryngospasm would have led to earlier recognition of the problem and/or better management in 16\% of cases. CONCLUSION: Laryngospasm may present atypically and, if not promptly managed effectively, may lead to morbidity and mortality. Although usually promptly recognised and appropriately managed, the use of a structured approach is recommended. If such an approach had been used in the 189 reported incidents, earlier recognition and/or better management may have occurred in 16\% of cases.
This article was published in Qual Saf Health Care and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research

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